Lothar Götz, Volcano

1 Apr – 13 May 2023
Petra Rinck Galerie, Birkenstraße 45, 40233 Düsseldorf

The work in this show exhibits two contrasting scales. On entering, you are greeted by a series of intense, small, abstract A4 drawings displayed through the gallery spaces, while beyond these, stretching like a backdrop in the rear gallery, is a single large 10m long wall painting.

The small drawings are worked up in both colour pencil and more translucent watercolour washes, using a variety of toned papers, which give the works differing blue, cream, black and green grounds. The works are selected from several series that Götz has been working on. They range from the spinning, ludic shapes of Rotation – Crimson (2022), to the more dreamy, shifting surfaces of May (2021), the harlequin patterning of Celebration (2022) and the more dynamic juxtaposition of form and line in his Triadic Ballet series, which references the work of Oskar Schlemmer, such as Conversation with a Modernist Idea (2021). The latter reflects the strong influence of early modernism and the Bauhaus in his work, seen here also in other drawings , including Conversation with Sophie-Taeuber-Arp/3 inspired by the work of the Swiss artist. In addition, a striking drawing with a more centred yet fractured series of forms, comes from Götz’ recent Volcano series. In all the works seem to strike different tones and moods across the gallery spaces, from the playful to the almost mystic.

Volcano is also the title of the wall painting which gives the show as a whole its name. This is formed of vividly coloured, triangular forms, pulsing out from a single point, like a release of abstract energy. This large work occupies the full length of the rear wall of the gallery, appearing like a dynamic abstract panorama. ‘I love mountains’, says Götz, ‘They are often used as a metaphor for the sublime, but when a mountain is a volcano, it’s the opposite: literally hellish. I find that fascinating.’

The choice of the show’s title comes in part from Götz’s recent rereading of Klaus Mann’s novel of the same name. The book uses the volcano as a metaphor for the explosive effect of the Nazis taking power in Germany – and its consequences. These included the emigration of many intellectuals and modernist artists from the country ¬– in particular from the Bauhaus (in Schlemmer’s case he went into internal exile in Germany).  It was from this milieu of émigrés that Mann drew the main characters of the book. ’I like the smallish human and personal stories of the book’s characters,’ observes Götz. ‘It’s about people who never have the guts to be a hero, but who stand up by leaving. Although they ultimately make a failure of emigration, the decision to emigrate was in itself a small act of heroism, of resistance.’