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Contemporary stairwell installation by Lothar Götz on view at Pallant House Gallery
Lothar Gotz, Composition for a Staircase. © Jason Hedges.

CHICHESTER.- German abstract artist Lothar Götz (b.1963) has created a site-specific mural in Pallant House Gallery’s contemporary stairwell to mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of the contemporary wing in 2006. Influenced by Wassily Kandinsky, the Bauhaus movement and Ben Nicholson, Götz’s large-scale geometric murals create an intuitive dialogue with the architecture and social function of a space. This is the first time that the Gallery has commissioned a contemporary artist to create an installation in the stairwell of the contemporary extension, designed by architects Colin St John Wilson and Long & Kentish in 2006. The installation creates an entirely new experience for our visitors.

Best known for his large-scale wall paintings and installations, Götz’s work is characterised by its use of intensely coloured abstract geometric forms, shapes and lines, which together create a stunning display. His site-specific installations are informed by both the real and imaginary: the reality of the space and history of the building but also fantasy spaces. His work creates connections between the real and the abstract, working to defuse the tension inherent between the two.

Götz grew up in the small market town of Günzburg in Bavaria, Germany. Even as a child he was fascinated by architecture and enjoyed looking at maps and plans, imagining what the finished buildings would look like. For Götz blueprints, especially those for private houses, were a starting point to create fantasy spaces. He saw these intimate spaces as extensions of ourselves, describing them as an extended body.

This fascination with imagined spaces and dissatisfaction with reality prompted Götz to become an artist. His interest in architecture and design continued to be his main inspirations leading him to visit the theatre more often than a museum. However, he soon became captivated by the Bauhaus and Futurist artists, including Gino Severini who is represented in the Gallery’s permanent collection. Ben Nicholson (another artist represented in the Gallery’s collection) was also an important influence on Götz, who was drawn to his use of geometry and shapes to create forms that were not quite abstract but not wholly figurative either.

At the Royal College of Art in London he began to bring all these elements together to create site-specific projects that combined his different interests: space (architectural and social), form and colour. Götz is especially interested in how architecture can change a shape as it is seen from different perspectives. Stairwells are particularly appealing to him as they ask how, through wall painting, ‘one can make a space more than a space, so it is not just a used space’.

Götz begins his installations by spending time in a space, allowing himself to be influenced by its character and daily realities. He makes rough sketches which he can then build on or even discard completely back at his studio where he begins to experiment with colour. This method allows Götz to create installations which combine his initial response to the real space and the more abstract work made in the studio.

To prepare for the commission at Pallant House Gallery, Götz spent several days sketching and observing the staircase and the Gallery as a whole. Works on display at the time by Ivon Hitchens and Ben Nicholson were part of this observation and contemplation but are not intended to be a direct influence. Götz’s aim is to celebrate the modernity of the stairwell and respond to the formal language of the architecture on the new wing.

Although the function of the staircase is unchanged, the visitors’ experience of the space has been transformed whether they are ascending or descending. The work therefore doesn’t end where the paint ends but transforms the entire space, creating an intriguing interplay between viewer and work.

Simon Martin, Artistic Director at Pallant House Gallery said, "We are delighted to be marking the 10th anniversary of the opening of Pallant House Gallery's contemporary wing with a new commission by Lothar Götz. The architecture of Colin St John Wilson and Long & Kentish is very inspiring to all our visitors, and it is great to see how Lothar has responded to this unique challenge.”

This installation is part of a programme of contemporary artists who have been commissioned to respond to the architecture and interiors of the Gallery including Susie Macmurray, Nina Saunders, Toby Paterson, Spencer Finch, Bouke de Vries and Michael Petry.

Lothar Götz has exhibited widely in the UK and abroad. His solo shows have included The Russell Chantry (Lincoln Cathedral), DOMOBAAL (London), Gasworks (London), the Chisenhale (London), Museum Goch (Germany). The MAC (Belfast), Chapter (Cardiff) and Petra Rinck Gallery (Düsseldorf). Group shows include the London Open Triennial at Whitechapel Gallery, the Contemporary Art Society’s ARTfutures, Bloomberg SPACE, David Risley Gallery, London, mima, Middlesborough, UK, and shows in Amsterdam, Dublin, Hamburg, Hanover, Salamanca, Wilhelmshaven and Wuppertal since 2005, including participation in the 2008 Prague Triennial.

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