AVA Gallery, Cape Town
23.01 – 27.02.2020
Stepping into the space of Givan Lötz’s ‘Unearthly’, the first thought that comes to mind is the definition of form; “a particular way in which a thing exists or appears”. It is a perfect departure from which to journey into Lötz’s latest offering. Conceptually, Lötz dedicated himself to the undoing of shape, form and it’s boding precedent; freeing himself and the audience of AVA Gallery of the consequences of the familiar. An unbridled imagination from an artist of many means sees a collection of sculptures and paintings that coax the audience to discover for themselves the emancipation from deemed design.
The collection is populated with pigment, depth and a mutating perspective. The very first impression is that of the use of encaustic wax as a partner for the paints on each canvas. Where the sculptures are a combination of assembled branches and acrylic gypsum or an industrial resin, the mirroring texture of the painted pieces are host to the encaustic wax, creating a visual bond across the show. It’s the denseness of this inventive texture and the rivulets of colour, the jagged layering of medium to create the surface of something unknown, whose impressions linger. AVA describes ‘Unearthly’ by saying, “His approach abandons the idea of a supposedly realist picturesque depiction of the world, celebrating the indeterminate nature of a place filtered by the imperfect mind.”
‘Unearthly’, as a title nods to the ‘extraterrestrial’ but keeps the seam of understanding close enough to allow the audience to explore their own definitions of what might be. All it takes is a tether; be it a familiar colour, or shape, for the eye to assume. Lötz asks the eye to roam freely, beyond fear’s supposition and form’s notion. Phantom Limbic System, 2020 suggests the lingering impressions of mind-matter; the shape a thought or feeling might take once swallowed down in favour of another. The three words wander after notions of empathy, death and what we’ve decided reigns above all: The Human System. Lötz’s titles weave threads between the pieces, as well as the journey of the audience as they move through the spaces of the gallery.
Regret on the Horns, 2020 has exclusive use of industrial resin among Lötz’s sculptures within the show, the structure drips with a binding ichor to the base of it’s podium. Reminiscent of an animal that has suffered until it’s dying day, the collection of branches depict a distinct pain that the audience can easily identify. Lötz made an effort here, and among other pieces, to pay his respects to the many consequences of our cycle of living; namely, “nature’s indifference, prowess and vulnerability…its endless cycles of growth, decay, destruction and renewal,” as stated in the prefacing text.
Lötz’s work begs the space between the known and unknown to widen; bridged by each of his pieces, he pursues the complexities of confusion without seeking a pronounceable answer. Embracing the liberation that comes with removing oneself from the expectations of what is, allows newness to surface, and follow its own lead. Often the thought occurs of, “Are the answers I have even relevant beyond my experience?” To think that every definition we possess carries the onus of being bound to our existence, as if we give the world its life, as if us naming something and its uses, defines it wholly. There is no possession here, only the illusion thereof, and the same applies with our selfish sense of understanding. We don’t know all there is to know, because we only ask the questions whose answers benefit us, or shape them just so. If ‘Unearthly’ is Lötz’s series of stepping stones to embracing what is beyond the human assumption, then he is surely headed in the right direction. No Answer, 2020 encapsulates this sentiment quite aptly.
Lötz uses iterations of linework to lead the eye here and there, between canvases, from the urgent scratchings that brandish Burn The Silence, 2020 to the solace of Inner Bloom, 2020. Inner Bloom’s colouring is affecting in its unique palette use, and provocative title. It asks: “Is this it, that feeling you couldn’t name?” The eye also repeatedly returns to Mud Slide, 2020, an amalgamation of elements marrying in a moment of sheer terror and beauty. There is a manner in which Lötz has used his tools to create what AVA Gallery refers to as ‘gestural, non-literal matterscapes’.
Whether it lives in the materials drying to a matter of his own making, or more the eventual placement and journey of creating these visual portrayals of the ceaseless questions that come with dutiful introspection and liberation, there is a spark that fulfils the feeling of bearing witness. And truthfully, what more is there to ask?