Lothar Götz for Drake's

Lothar Götz for Drake's
Lothar Götz for Drake's

 

Lothar Götz is a renowned German abstract painter, well known for his bold use of line, shape and colour. His work is often formed in response to architectural stimulus, such as the large-scale, site-specific paintings he has created on interior and exterior walls of buildings across the world. Continuing this fascination with the architectural, Lothar’s drawings sometimes act as abstracted floor plans for imagined buildings. 

We teamed with Lothar to produce a limited collection of pocket squares, featuring four original drawings created expressly for us. Each drawing represents Lothar’s vision of a building plucked from his imagination, and each imagined building has an imagined inhabitant in mind.

Last year we visited Lothar in his studio to talk about colour, architecture, dreams, and the allure of unfinished buildings.

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Nathan Sharp, Drake's: How does an artist’s take on architecture differ from someone who’s traditionally schooled as an architect?

Lothar Götz: I always loved architecture, from very early childhood. I grew up in a small market town, and it was at a time when they built a lot of new style bungalows. Bungalow in Britain means something else, but in Germany it means an architect-designed modernist house. To me as a child they were quite amazing buildings, and most of my boyhood I spent on my own going to building sites, and I loved them to bits. I think it was this fantasy world I was interested in. I don’t know why it was – my parents would often think I was a bit crazy, and they always said, ‘Why are you going to all these ugly building sites?’ I think I loved the geometry, and I loved something that wasn’t finished yet. Then they would be finished, and a family would move in. Sometimes I nearly cried I was so disappointed, because I was absolutely not interested in how they lived in there. All the magic was gone. So, I think for me this disappointment probably made me not want to become an architect [laughs]!

You do not know at the time that these are key experiences, only when you look back in retrospect, and even now I constantly have dreams about these houses. It’s quite weird, I even remember the layout. I call them my property dreams [laughs]!

Since then, I have done lots of drawings that are imagined ground plans for retreats, and I’m responding to something: it could be somewhere I’ve been, or a piece of design, could be clothing. Sometimes I see someone in the papers, and I’m taken, and then I go to the studio and I draw a retreat for them. And it looks like an abstract drawing, but it is actually an imagined ground plan for a building. I’m not interested in how that really would look, like three-dimensional. In the end it’s a colour composition.

NS: And what’s your relationship to colour? How are you using colour in your pieces? Because it's clearly a huge part of your work.

LG: Colour was always important to me and I don’t know why. Some people try to avoid colours, mainly architects, actually. Not all of them, but quite often they really like nice, tasteful tones. And I was always drawn to colour, already when I was a child I loved really colourful clothes. Then when I started working, colour became a big part of my work. A few years ago, I did a project about the Triadic Ballet from Oskar Schlemmer. I love the costumes from it, and I think it has something to do with geometry and colour. To me it just does something. I could open these tins of paint and just stare at them [laughs]. If you have a huge wall that’s painted in purple, you can just jump into it, and something is happening that is between physical and intellectual. Something is happening in the brain and I can’t describe that.

NS: You often work at a very large scale with your site-specific paintings. How does this differ from your studio work?

LG: Well, there is a very different feel to the work in this studio – which is mainly drawing and painting – and the site-specific pieces, which are done in response to an architectural environment or situation. The difference with these pieces is, for me, they actually have no real size. They are the building, or the wall, or the room: it’s the architectural situation I’m invited to do something for. So, I never put a size on the captions, I always say ‘dimensions variable,’ because the dimension is actually the building itself. Some of the projects are huge, but most are actually middle-sized.

Of course, technically it’s very different [from the studio work]. It’s quite a bit to organise, and it’s a kind of strategic approach. You start looking at something, then you make a sketch, then you make a design, and then there is the execution, and during the execution there are always lots of surprise moments which you are not really planning. Like, for instance, in Eastbourne [In 2019 Lothar created a large-scale painting for the outside walls of the Towner Gallery, Eastbourne, UK] there is a college opposite. It’s a wide building with lots of windows, and I’m completely excited because the work is mirrored in their windows, and these are surprises with site-specific work.

"Most of my boyhood I spent on my own going to building sites, and I loved them to bits. I think it was this fantasy world I was interested in. My parents thought I was a bit crazy"

Years ago I did mainly site-specific works, and this drawing practice [in the studio] I started because I felt that I need something where I’m just on my own, and I needed something without a deadline, just playing around, and this is why I started these A4 drawings, actually as a contrast to these mainly large-scale site-specific works. I like both, and I think in some ways I probably need both. When I’m in the studio day in, day out, then I feel a bit lonely. But if you have one site-specific painting after another it can be a bit tiring, not only because you are on site there and always have to interact with people, but usually for nearly two weeks I’m staying in a hotel, living out of a suitcase. But on the other hand, I do like these installation periods as well, and I always say all this becomes, in some way, part of the work. 

Like in Eastbourne, it’s a very different city, for instance, from Lübeck where I was working in Germany. Both cities have history – Lübeck is an old Hanseatic city. Eastbourne’s closer to the sea, but Lübeck has water as well. It’s such a different context, and as well architecturally – the Towner Gallery in the centre of Eastbourne is very exposed, whereas the wall painting in Lübeck was in a Bauhaus pavilion, tucked away in a museum garden, completely secluded, and just the experience to work there is the complete opposite. And that’s of course interesting, and I do like it. But at some point it’s nice to be in the studio and not to think about anything like, are the assistants arriving on time? Is the paint there? Do we have enough?