“I like the Bauhaus idea of Gesamtkunstwerk” says the artist Lothar Götz when I ask him how he describes his large, site-specific wall paintings. “An artwork where different areas – architecture, design, painting, colour – meet without a clear border. I was always interested in that crossover.”
Citing influences as diverse as the awe-inspiring painted interiors of Baroque churches, to the pared-back modernist aesthetic of the Bauhaus, Lothar creates bright, geometric abstract artworks on an epic scale. This month sees the unveiling of his largest painting to date: the transformation of the entire exterior of the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne. Commissioned to celebrate the gallery’s tenth anniversary in its current building, the painted façade will remain in situ until May 2020.
As we chat on Skype, Lothar holds up a sketch for ‘Dance Diagonal’, which will, by the time you read this, wrap the gallery’s huge walls in converging, technicolour diagonals. His design responds to different architectural details on the building: the curved window alcoves, the jutting balcony and the unpredictable movement that will be created by the curved gallery walls. “The exciting thing with these wall paintings and site-specific works on this scale is that you can plan them – and you have to plan them quite precisely so that you know where to start – but there is still this element of surprise, where you don’t know exactly what it will look like.”
Lothar is well used to creating large-scale works – previous commissions include the Southbank Centre in London, and Leeds Art Gallery – but the Towner will be a first for the artist. “What is very unusual about this project is that I’m painting the whole of the outside, which will turn the building itself into a giant public art sculpture. It crosses over from architecture or painting and becomes part of the topography of the town. It’s not like going into a gallery and saying, ‘there are the paintings’. People will walk along the street, not necessarily expecting to look at art, but then suddenly there it is.
“It will create quite a landmark in the town centre and that’s very special. It doesn’t happen very often, to have an opportunity to do something which is so visible to the public.” The installation is set to take three weeks and, when we speak in early May, Lothar isn’t sure how much paint he will need for each of the 15 colours, each needing four coats. But, with Brewers Decorator Centres sponsoring the commission, he is guaranteed a sufficient supply. Nor does he know how much tape it will take to mask the crisp diagonal lines across such distances (one of the walls is more than 30 metres wide and 15 metres high), but he’ll be working with an expert team from the London Mural Company to manage the process. What is certain is that the Towner – always a striking building – is about to become an artwork in its own right. And an eye-catching centrepiece for Eastbourne’s new Devonshire Quarter.
1. Lothar Götz, in front of his installation at the MAC Belfast . Photo by Jordan Hutchins
2. Crash: Acrylic and Emulsion on wall, Küstlerhaus / Kunstverein Hanover, 2012photo by Raimund Zakowski
Towner’s celebratory summer season launches on the 15th of June.