Following on from his recent solo exhibition at The Kitchen in New York, EXILE is honored to present the inaugural exhibition of late Swiss-born artist Klaus Lutz (1940 – 2009) at the gallery. The exhibition takes its title and focus from a single work by the artist, and presents the newly restored 16mm film installation, Arabia; most likely the first screening since its initial showing by Lutz in Switzerland around the time of its production in 1991.
Working in close collaboration with the Verein für die Erhaltung des Werks von Klaus Lutz and Rotwand Gallery, it became evident during the preparation for the exhibition that Arabia, which originally consisted of two films entitled Arabia 1 and Arabia 2, intended as a simultaneous double projection combining his iconic circular convex balloon projection with a large-scale wall projection in the background. During the original presentation around 1991 these two films were introduced by Lutz in form of a live performance. As with all of his works, this performance was meticulously planned by Lutz, visible in the detailed flow chart displayed alongside Arabia. Sadly, there is no surviving documentation of the actual performance of Arabia, but it is known that Lutz often used performance as a supporting mode for what can be called ‘live screenings’ of his films.
The work of Klaus Lutz seems to operate introspectively from within his very own distinctly personal universe. Originally trained as a teacher, Lutz begins his career in the early 1970s, creating intricate, small-scale drypoint etchings and copperplate engravings showing meticulous hieroglyphic sign systems invented by the artist or spatial abstractions already reminiscent of filmic sequences. Increasingly passionate about his major influence, the writer Robert Walser, Lutz continues his work in Switzerland and Italy in the following decade, creating numerous books and accordion folders as well as early filmic treatments.
Beginning with his first short film Graph in 1987, Lutz fully engages with 16mm film, providing him with the means to articulate his unique language in complex, multi-layered and fantastical settings with the artist himself becoming the sole actor in his own films. For these complex yet precise productions, Lutz creates abstract, often rather futuristic and dream-like worlds that in their ambience and magical complexity are reminiscent of early silent films such as Robert Wiene’s Das Cabinett des Dr. Caligari or George Melier’s Le Voyage dans la lune.
The two films, that together form the filmic installation Arabia, are the last films created by Lutz in his native Switzerland before he was awarded a residency in New York in 1993, where he continued to live and work until his death in 2009. Here, in his small East Village apartment on 7th Street, between First Avenue and Avenue A, the artist further explored, invented, created, and produced 16mm films using various technical effects, optical lenses, multiple exposures, hand-made sets, costumes and self-constructed apparatuses. There is a sense that the reclusive, and at times, obsessive, personality of his film production within his small apartment becomes a metaphor for his work.
Klaus Lutz’s films are a condensation of seemingly endless layers of animation, staged performances, and drawings, as well as outdoor scenes, a combination that together presents a continuing and distinct personal expression of creativity whilst giving the viewer insight into the artist’s complex dream-like and magical universe. His films do not only follow their very own individual logic but are a precisely calculated implosion of an obsessively creative, intellectual and technical mind. While being at times hard to comprehend, his dizzying armada of signs, motions, layers, loops and suggestive meanings seems to want to add up to a larger grand scheme, explaining possibly not just his universe but the metaphysical sense of being, per se.
The exhibition functions two-fold: In-between the screenings of Arabia the gallery lights are switched on allowing to view related works as well as to watch Frank Matter’s documentary on Klaus Lutz: The beauty of my island, 33 min, 1999.
Opening: Saturday, Feb 14, 5 – 8 pm
Screenings: 5:30pm, 6:30pm and 7:30pm
Following the final screening an informal talk/Q&A will be held with Frank Matter, Verein für die Erhaltung des Werks von Klaus Lutz, and Sabina Kohler, Rotwand Gallery.
Exhibition: Feb 19 – Mar 14
Screenings: Thu – Sat, 1:30pm, 3pm and 4:30pm, and by appointment.