Saturday, 13 July 2019

Dance Diagonal at the Towner Art Gallery …




I went to hear the talk by Lothar Goetz, the artist-designer of the Dance Diagonal mural, on his artistic journey … where I felt slightly out of my depth (understatement) – but the brain ticks over and will continue to do so.


Lothar as the mural started off ..
c/o Eva Eastman Towner Gallery
Lothar took us on the path from his childhood artistic talent to his approach to the Towner’s commission.  How his Eastern European upbringing really frustrated his creative talent … which was classified as degenerative art …


Map of Iron Curtain area


… once the “Iron Curtain” came down he was able to explore artistic boundaries in western Europe, eventually settling in England.






Bauhaus emblem
… his interests spread across many disciplines … theatre /dance / architecture / interiors /gardens / different styles … he already had a special interest in the German art school: Bauhaus …




Stairway Scene 1932
by Oskar Schlemmer


He mentions in the article (interview link below) that he preferred abstract art but was deeply affected by the turbulent history of the Bauhaus …


… mentioning the influence of Oskar Schlemmer (1888 – 1943) – the German painter, sculptor, designer and choreographer … who had been hired as Master of Form at the Bauhaus theatre workshop …


Costumes from Schlemmer's
Triadic Ballet

… Schlemmer’s most famous work is the Triadic Ballet – which saw costumed actors transformed into geometrical representations of the human body in what Oskar described as a “part of form and colour”.



I started to learn so much as Lothar explained to us, that though he was an artist, he also needed to respond to ‘physical space’ – hence his interest in ‘wall painting’ … which enhanced his love of abstract art …


Towner before its transformation

Back to the Towner … they are celebrating ten years in the new purpose built gallery … so decided to take the bold step of commissioning a mural for its outside façade.  



They elected to recruit a mural company and separately appoint an artist … so the two creatives would need to work together, yet separately …


During its artistic progression
The Towner commission is the largest sculpture design Lothar has done … and he was delighted that they chose the more radical of his two entries … and we are too – it is so striking …




In his talk, with lots of slides, he had taken us through the reasons why he decided to concentrate on abstract rather than figurative work … he loves to draw, has always painted – but felt the need to respond to something …

Dance Diagonal



… the Towner’s architects (Rick Mather Associates) had been influenced by its setting … site, sea and waves, chalk cliffs, … hence the architect’s use of curves, balcony havens/niches, fenestration …







Lothar realised too that the optical effects of being near the sea, the Downs, with the English weather – blue skies, sometimes wispy or pluffy clouds, grey rainy days – would all influence the mural …


… it was important that his work complement the building’s design … 


Wrap around art at the reverse side of the Towner
... and the wrap-around artwork (3 sides including the nooks and crannies of its architecture) would need to be sympathetic … as the visually transformed pure (white painted) Gallery would change the energy of the building … and boy has it done so!



Isn’t it amazing how much the 'skin change' has affected the look of the building … from ‘pure white’ to Dance Diagonal’s specifically chosen colour palette …


The Birley Centre - a new building as part of
Eastbourne College ... opposite Dance Diagonal -
see other photos!

He was asked about his colour selections … and advised that he spent a lot of time considering the tones to be used … referencing the coastal light …






The NCS colour system is based on the
three pairs of elementary colours

… while by necessity being limited to the Weather Shield range of colours offered under the National Colour System through Brewers  Decorator Centres, who had sponsored the project.  (This selection has 1,933 colours.)



The top panel, which I call mulberry … reminding me of an English dessert: berried fool - summer fruits and cream … Lothar called purple – interesting isn’t it – how we all see colours differently.



Nooks, crannies and fenestration - along
with the mulberry curve
He doesn’t design using a computer – it’s all free drawn and hand coloured … he doesn’t fixate over a building with as many irregularities as the Towner has … the niches, balconies, the curve et al …



Back and side of the Towner

The Gallery had sent various drawings, images and plans of the exterior which would become the mural … 




... and every time Lothar looked – he saw another ‘anomaly’ to the building … particularly when he considered the back of the building facing the tennis courts …


Not the best ... but a view looking east along the
Grand Parade, past the turquoise tiled bandstand over to the
pier then beyond across to Pevensey Bay and Hastings

He talked to the space … to get its response – he spent quite a lot of time in the town checking it out, seeing the Gallery in its setting – near the Grand Parade, which runs along the sea-front.





Poster of Eastbourne seafront with Red Arrows
Once he’d been given the commission he was then able to concentrate on tying down the diagonals around the architecture to finalise the mural.




When the painting began he was there to supervise the actual design of each segment  … and then see some of the early decorating … 

Dancing Diagonals


... later he noted that as kids walked by the green, pink and yellow diagonals: they became animated jumping up and down – he said he was delighted to see their reaction …







So that is our Dance Diagonal mural at the Towner Art Gallery – it is a major talking point in the town and around … and I suspect will be one of Eastbourne’s best assets – it has certainly garnered a great deal of support …


Reflections in the
Birley Centre over the road
… Lothar talked about designing wall art works knowing that in a specific period of time they’ll be painted over – he says he accepts that fact … it’s only when the time frame is very limited he feels it more …


… we’re meant to have the mural for a year – but there’s already requests for that time frame to be extended … in my humble opinion ‘Dance Diagonal’ will be hard to beat …


I love it!!

A few links:  

… Studio International’s article about Lothar’s monumental mural for the Towner … they show his original sketch … more (professional) photos of the mural … and Lothar’s explanation as to his ‘raison d’être … so, so interesting …

Artnet News … Triadic Ballet Bauhaus …see the Surreal Costumes


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

44 comments:

Joseph said...

You may know we are Bauhaus fans, in all art media but especially architecture. The Towner Gallery and their Birley Centre are amazing buildings, complete with white concrete walls, flat roof, horizontal window strips and bright murals. Eastbourne looks nearly as beautiful as Tel Aviv :)

Hels and Joseph

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Hello Hilary: Thanks for this detailed account of both the artist, his vision for the work, and the finished creation. I found it all fascinating, and your step by step approach in marching us through Lothar's origins to the present both appealing and compelling. You mentioned that in the GDR his art was considered degenerate and it begs the question, how many other artists were stifled, whose creative impulses never saw the light of day? It is appalling to think that the State can determine what is art and what is not. Can you even begin to imagine what kind of mediocrity someone like Trump the Barbarian would choose?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Hels - yes I realised your love of all things Bauhaus ... I'm learning! It appears the Birley Centre was designed by Miller Bourne architects, Hove Sussex ... but I have to check things about the building ... as there are two parts ...

As you imply the Towner and the Birley did look very similar didn't they ... pure white to match the Sussex chalk cliffs ...

Having not been to Tel Aviv - but the Bauhaus gallery is indicative of the style ... I think I'll still plump for Eastbourne ... at least this section of it: the town centre is another story (it's being revamped slowly!) ... and this area still has refurbishment to the theatre areas to be completed ... 2020 I hope the town will be a delight to live in ...

@ David - thanks very much ... there was so much more I could have put into the post ... but specifcally:

I left out the fact that Lothar mentioned many creative artists, writers, musicians left for other parts of the world ... South America received many disillusioned people who became immigrants or were refugees ...

While when Lothar was in primary school his art teacher gave them a project to draw 'a beetle' (the pride of Nazi Germany - a people's car) ... Lothar drew his ... it did not conform: so was screwed up and chucked away - a child's degenerative art!!

I used to work with East Europeans at one stage ... it was disconcerting - as they had no opinions, always travelled in twos and threes, and had no concept of free speech ...

I won't go elsewhere! We don't need to be bullied in any way and should be encouraged to learn about others' ways of life ...

Thanks so much Hels and David ... a rather long reply - which I hope answers a few things ... cheers Hilary

PS my links give you more information ... but checking out Lothar's work is just wonderful - lots of buildings have been altered and enhanced with his designs ...

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
A truly delightful post, Hilary - ta for your efforts! Art is visual poetry; not all 'poems' are appreciated just as not all art is, but this does not negate the artistry and that such expression is ever suppressed is fearful indeed. Am so glad Lothar found his place.

RE colour; purple is the colour, mulberry as a hue of purple. Blue is blue but can be many hues (shades) which require their own names, such as aqua, sky, turquoise and so on. Father's neighbour just had her door repainted last week in a colour very close to that top panel. The tin called it 'lavender'! So yes, the hues can be debated, the colour will always remain purple. That said, I do know that some people will see the red spectrum in that band and refer to it as pink - and that is a whole other debate!!! &*> YAM xx

Elephant's Child said...

Wow, wow and wow again.
I love the finished mural (and do hope that it is retained for MUCH longer than a year).
And grieved for all that was lost when artists (whatever their genre) were/are stifled.
Thank you. Off to check out the links.

Paula said...

WOW how interesting. Those colors are just beautiful!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Interesting he doesn't design any of it using a computer.

Liza said...

I love it. Those colors offer spirit. If I saw them in person, I would dance, too!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Yam - that's lovely ... so pleased you enjoyed it. Great comment on art being visual poetry ... and yes so am I glad Lothar found his place.

Colour - I know it's 'personal' ... let alone the professionals who actually use it correctly ... and now you've mentioned about purple being purple and the hues - I can see I should call it purple: just I don't like purple! - personal association ... funny isn't it. I know lots of hues ... lavender, heather et al ... it (colour) is something I've been wanting to write about forever ... one day!

@ EC - delighted to see your interest - and yes it is wow, wow, wow! I too hope it'll be retained for MUCH longer and will be interested to see what happens ...

The people who were able to escape from Eastern Europe to live in the west were fortunate ... hard lives to get here, but then they could broaden their perspectives.

@ Paula - it's been interesting for me to learn as I follow along ... isn't it so vibrant ...

@ Alex - yes it is interesting that he uses free hand ... and one of the links (Studio one) shows one of his sketches for the mural.

@ Liza - you're so right the colours offer spirit ... you're very welcome to come and see and dance for us!!

Thanks so much for your comments and thoughts - it's just wonderful having the Gallery there for us to see the mural so often ... cheers Hilary

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I love that mural. I'm glad you enjoyed the talk and found so much to relay to us here. I'm always rather wary of listening to artists talking about their work, often I find it spoils the experience of their art rather than adding much to it - glad that was not the case here.

Jo said...

It is an amazing mural Hilary, I wish I could see it in person. As Alex said, interesting he doesn't use a computer to design.

How was the tennis you went to?

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I'm not a fan of abstract art but his design works so well for the building.

Dan said...

What a fantastic project. It looks wonderful.

Kay G. said...

I look forward to seeing this later this year!
Also, I wonder if it will ever be painted over? And if so, if Brewers is ready with the white paint? :-)
(My father in law worked for Brewers, a lovely company.)

Jacqui Murray said...

I've never read an article like this. To understand what inspired an abstract artist to draw as he did/does, and his reactions. You blew me away, Hilary.

DMS said...

It really is beautiful and it was fun to learn more about the artist and his process. The bold and bright colors really change the atmosphere and feeling when looking at the building. I am sure more people notice the building now than ever before! Thanks for sharing all of this with us. So interesting!
~Jess

M. Denise C. said...

You live in a fabulous place, Hilary! Thanks for the Lothar information!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ John - yes I agree - so I was lucky that Lothar has had an amazing artistic journey and thus explained his reasoning for his works ... but as you mention - he really opened my eyes to a great deal ...

@ Jo - It's brilliant to see ... I'm lucky it's here to enjoy. The starting point for this sort of mural is the architecture itself - so the 'design' has to respond to the building - hence the fact its sketched out in freehand.

The tennis was excellent ... I'm so pleased I was able to get inside and see Eastbourne tennis live: a treat.

@ Diane - I'm not either ... but from his talk - and subsequent read of various articles ... I now understand more. I learnt a lot too ...

@ Dan - yes we are lucky to have it in the town - it'll be a draw ...

@ Kay - that's great you'll be able to visit the Gallery and the mural ... and to perhaps get into Brewers to chat to old friends of your FIL when you're over ... I hope to get to talk to them about the paint etc. Whether it'll be painted over I've no idea - we will have to wait ...

@ Jacqui - thank you ... I took notes and crafted together his journey, as well as adding in some bits that resonate to me and which I felt needed to be there - Lothar mostly gave me the information - it really helped me learn a lot. Now I want to see more of his work in situ ...

@ Jess - certainly the crowds at the tennis were pretty amazed at the building ... and the change the feel of the area has had with the new mural.

I think we need some seating around it ... so we can sit and look at it ... I guess I could bring a picnic chair down!


@ Denise - Eastbourne does have this amazing setting - our seafront shielded from the westerlies by the chalk headland of Beachy Head is wonderfully flat in the main part of the town, though delightfully Victorian quirky around it.


Thanks so much to you all - the talk was just amazing and I'm so pleased I went to listen ... and that you've found the post informative - wonderful commenters that you are!!! Cheers Hilary








Janie Junebug said...

I love the colors. Thank you for the great information.

Love,
Janie

D.G. Kaye said...

Thanks for this lovely and informative slice of history about Lothar and is vision for art. <3

Truedessa said...

I enjoyed reading this post. I absolutely love the colorful design. It's amazing how the building was transformed. Thanks for sharing.

Cheers!

Liz A. said...

It just kinda looks like lots of colors, so it's nice to be reminded that someone poured over the look of it and came up with that specific design.

retirementreflections said...

Hi, Hilary - The finished mural is incredible. I also hope that its time frame is extended!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Janie - glad you enjoyed the notes of the talk ...

@ Debby - it was just an interesting reminder about life in Eastern Europe, with the release freedom in the west can bring. Lothar has the most amazing artistic ability - from which I was able to appreciate abstract art more easily ...

@ Truedessa - hasn't the building been transformed ... I'm going down there today and it's a grey day - so I'll see how I react to the colours in the grey light ...

@ Liz - thanks ... Lothar is one talented abstract artist ... the style of art I'm beginning to appreciate a lot more as I learn more.

@ Donna - I also hope that time frame is extended ... I'm in touch with some people at the Gallery ... so I'll keep my ear to the ground.

Thanks so much for being here - Lothar's work and his talk have really opened up my eyes to different aspects of art I'd never considered before ... have good weeks ... cheers Hilary

Inger said...

I love it too, it is so colorful, cheerful, fun and interesting all at the same time. What a great addition to your city.

Kelly Steel said...

Wow! Such an interesting post, thank you. Beautiful colors.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

I love nearly all art and his art is spectacular. Amazing. I love the huge sculpture and the color. Artists were artists way before computer programs.

Teresa

Julie Flanders said...

I felt out of my depth just reading this post! As usual I learned so much as I'd never heard of this artist before. Amazing and beautiful work.

Sandra Cox said...

Amazing. I love it too:)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Inger - thanks it is wonderful to walk past ... and certainly is a great addition to the town and theatre area ...

@ Kelly - glad you enjoyed the post ... and our very colourful gallery ...

@ Teresa - it's been such an interesting project ... to see it happening, as well as learn more about the process. You're so right about artists being artists throughout millennia ... computers are useful - but our brains are better ...

@ Julie - Lothar is making his mark around Britain as well as in Europe. What I particularly enjoyed was hearing him talk about how his natural talent came through and eventually flourished when he was free of constrictions. Also being able to get some background to the Bauhaus art school and to see the influence Schlemmer with his Triadic Ballet helped Lothar find his style ... I just love the sculpture ... and the 'finding out' ...

@ Sandra - many thanks - it's just lovely ...

Cheers to you all - I shall be walking past it every day ... and today luckily from a still sunny Eastbourne ... Hilary

Marja said...

There is indeed much to love The stunning colours and shapes cheer up the building and the whole area. Interesting to read the effect it has on the children. Dancing diagonal is therefore in more than one aspect a good name

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I would love to see that in person. It is dazzling even in pictures.

Joanne said...

such an interesting man. You related his thought process well with your descriptions and pictures. I love the final product and how well it meshes with the building, the coastal community, etc. His interests in everything arts truly came together for a nifty product to share with so many. Thanks for posting this.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Marja - you are so right ... there is much to love. It is beautiful to walk past and now I make that my route to town ... so I can always see it. I think I'll ask any children I see walking past what they think about the mural ... as you say Dance Diagonal fits the design doesn't it ...

I think we need to get some benches put up - so one can sit and study the building and the art a bit more ...

@ Susan - I know it does just dazzle. It's misty and cloudy today so once I can leave the house I might take a walk down there and see the effect it has today ...

@ Joanne - it was a very fascinating talk ... and I could have written a lot more, but tried to relate it relatively simply ... while reminding everyone about the dark days of Eastern Europe.

So glad you could see what I was implying and could convey something of Lothar's artistic journey - it brought back memories of the 1970s for me ... and reminded me that Bowie was influenced by Schlemmer.

Good to see you three and thanks so much for the comments - cheers Hilary

Haddock said...

Like that transformation from white to those jazzy colours.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Haddock - thanks so much ... the sculptural skin has certainly made the architectural 'zing' out ... it's gorgeous - cheers Hilary

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Even though you considered part of the presentation to be "over your head," I'm glad you stuck with it and then shared some of what you learned with the rest of us. It's good to get out of our comfort zones and stretch our minds every once in a while, and it's even better that, at our age, we still have the capability to stretch. (The mind, anyway... the body? Not so much.)

It's fascinating to consider the artistic thought that went into this mural. The colors are invigorating, and I hope it gets to remain longer than a year. It's such a shame to give a work of art an expiration date.

Have a super weekend. Cheers!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I love how your wide-ranging interests help to educate me! Thanks for sharing his art with me. :)

Damyanti said...

I learn so much each time i visit your blog--these murals are amazing! Love all the pictures.

Deborah Barker said...

Loved reading this post Hilary, I tried to comment when in Fowey. (Not sure what went awry) Anyway, the colours and the transformation of a building into a living, breathing entity is quite stunning! Not surprised the children dance and jump up and down when they see it...think I might too LOL! ;-) X

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Fascinating! And powerful to reflect on the artistic voices and talent freed when the Iron Curtain came down.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Susan - thanks the information filters around in my mind and continues to do so ... but how to put into a post that makes sense for readers and fellow bloggers: thankfully many can see it. Oh, I agree thank goodness for being able to stretch ourselves - and again I agree: the mind - yes; the body - not so much!

My mind has definitely been broadened by his talk and where he obtained his influences ... and then realise that Bowie and many others were influenced by Schlemmer and other Bauhaus creatives. The colours are stunning - and they are reflected in the windows of the school building opposite.

@ Elizabeth - I teach myself (a little) and so like to put down here what I've come across and appreciated a little. I'm delighted you've enjoyed reading about Lothar ...

@ Damyanti - thanks ... I just enjoy writing things up ... and the interaction I get with blogging friends ...

@ Deborah - oh thank you for coming back over ... different machine probably - why: who knows!

The mural is quite extraordinary ... as you say it is stunning. I must ask the families as they walk past if they want to jump or dance their way across the diagonals ...

@ Karen - yes it is fascinating and was, for me to be there, for the talk. You've raised a very salient point I was trying to convey ... that so much talent with their creative voices was freed up when the Iron Curtain came down. Yet how much is still restricted in various parts of the world, including Russia ...

Thanks so much to you all - I've loved the comments ... the transformation of the white chalk cliffs of a building into this reflective art work is wonderful ... so I'm glad I've been able to relay to you its wonder. Cheers Hilary

Nilanjana Bose said...

So very colourful - and a fascinating personality. Amazing artistry! Mulberry is a shade of purple I think, but mulberry sounds way nicer than plain purple to me.

I'm just catching up on your posts now, my reading schedule has gone for a toss since summer started! :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Nila - yes it was so interesting hearing Lothar talk ... once I'd mulled the various aspects over ... having worked with East Europeans back in the 1970s - I could relate a bit more.

I'm glad you brought the Mulberry colour up - of course that's our layman's take on colour ... but Lothar being the professional called it 'purple' - the true colour ... as Yam sets out quite succinctly in her comment above. I should have taken that into account when writing the post ... as I'd mentioned the National Colour System and realised 'true colours' v the ones we like to describe ...

Sadly I don't like purple much - but do love its variations ... mulberry, lavender etc etc ... thanks for taking time to come over and catch up on your commenting - cheers Hilary