Friday, 21 August 2009

Lothar Böttcher | A Man Of His Time

Through Lothar Böttcher’s work one is taken on one of the most exciting artistic adventures of all time in the search for the ultimate nature of physical reality, a hunt that in the past century has yielded such breakthroughs as Einstein’s theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, two theories that radically altered our perception of the universe and our place in it. The latest progression in this heroic pursuit is string theory, known as superstring or M-theory. This same thirst, exploration and fascination with time and space has been going on within artistic circles since 1915 and Kasimir Malevich, Suprematism and the Abstract Expressionist and Art Informel in the 1950-60’s. Today the artists looking are these puzzling issues are artists such as the late Sol LeWitt, Abderrazak Sahli and Julie Mehretu, Sarah Sze, Marie Thibeault and deconstructive architects such as David Adjaye and Zaha Hadid. Working on parallel lines Lothar’s glass artworks boldly navigates between the lines of science and art; looking through the artist’s transparent work one is drawn to the illusion of the alternate space created; once again in search of this elusive notion of the light between.

The artist works primarily with glass, which lends itself to a reaction of immense intrigue and glee when scrutinized. There is a special mystical quality to his work as the audience is left with renewed vision, questioning not only the art but the world around them. Just as Galileo caused delight 400 years ago so the viewer is again in for an artistic extravaganza, to look not at the glass but at the space that lies beyond. In his earlier works with prisms the fundamental theories of science are incorporated throughout. The viewer perceives the contiguous space from a distorted angle which is ever changing due to his or her movement.

The most recent sculptural glassworks Lothar has created are lenses that act as a portal, which challenges the observer’s perception of space and time. Appropriately, Lothar’s lenses are based around the Galileo telescope, which was coincidently invented in 1609; in a time when the world believed that the earth was at the centre of the universe, known as the geocentric view devised by Claudius Ptolemys in the 2nd Century AD, rather than the sun, which is known as the heliocentric. It was Galileo who controversially supported the Nicolaus Copernicus notion of heliocentrism with his most famous work, ‘Dialogue Concerning The Two Chief World Systems’. Today Galileo is regarded as the father of modern science.

The artist toys with his audience playing on the insecurities of all individuals and the paranoia of being watched and centre stage. Lothar’s work would certainly be at home in the CCTV City of London. When the viewer lurches closer and piers through the multifaceted lens they become the viewed, and the viewed becomes the subject matter and that becomes the art. The viewer becomes the viewed and spectators see the distorted person, their facial features in constant motion, incessantly changing behind the lens. The audience delights in the experience and the charm of seeing something that was not there a moment ago and the artist has successfully changed the canvas for a fraction of a second. A constant conversation is taking place with the glass as the transmitting device.

Every movement changes the way the spectator perceives the sculpture – whether it is the viewer or the viewed again. The artist has intentionally attributed the work to Galileo’s kinematics and the world in perpetual motion and in a constant state of change. The work echoes the world itself and cosmos beyond working towards a world where everything is seen differently by different people and in doing so celebrating the importance of individuality and personal perspective and perception. The artist works with these weighty philosophical notes and as he does so the concept of the world looks different and work begins to question the way we see the world around us. The work is inclusive and participatory, which links skilfully with the thinkers of our time; connecting with scientists, writers and philosophers like Michael Albert and fellow anarchists Noam Chomsky who are sharing similar thoughts of Participatory Economics or Parecon, life after Capitalism and also ideas spoken about from Chris Ofili and his interview about the Last Supper in the 'Upper Room', created alongside David Adjaye. We could easily refer to this kind of art as Participatory art. Through Lothar’s work we see an artist pushing the envelop ever closer to the notion of artistic enlightenment.

© Joe Pollitt, 2009

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