© Dietmar Lutz

Dietmar Lutz: MoMA, 2007
acrylic on canvas, 175 x 290 cm

Kota Ezawa & Dietmar Lutz

This is the first collaborative exhibition between the Dusseldorf-based painter Dietmar Lutz and the San Francisco based Kota Ezawa. In this collaborative exhibition, entitled "Documenta" after the landmark exhibitions of contemporary art that are held every 5 years in Kassel, Germany, Lutz and Ezawa appropriate the archival approach of curators - sorting and choosing specific photographic records of their own individual exhibitions. The original images are interchanged, emptied of content, and enriched by being worked into Lutz's huge canvases, or Ezawa's cartoon-like stills. New photographs of those works in their respective studios are then passed between the two geographically distanced artists and become in turn second, third and fourth-generational source material.

The process becomes a game of interpretation and then re-interpretation, from the objective to the subjective and back again through the sieve, or mirror, of photography. The result is a new exhibition experience that goes beyond the immediate works in the gallery. Views are opened up into other rooms, exhibitions and time. It is "Documenta" as meta-exhibition.

On the face of the two artist's work follows two very different trajectories but they are united through a long-term appreciation of each other’s work and thinking.

Dietmar Lutz's large-scale paintings start with snapshots that the artist takes, using his camera as an indexical tool that records his life in much the same way as a sketchbook. The small snapshot is the source of compositional decisions for his fast and physical paintings on canvas, complete with the cropping and angles that the camera provides. Excess details are emptied out so that although the resulting paintings are directly figurative their generous expanses of pure colour reference the abstract qualities of colour-field painting. And while directly engaged with the reality of the artist's life, moments of pure fiction from found images and films are also inserted, thereby blending two types of memory, the personal and the collective. The resulting paintings are a golden-toned version of the real.

© Kota Ezawa

Kota Ezawa: Openings, 2008
backlit transparency, 50.8 x 61 cm

Kota Ezawa is known for projects like "The History of Photography Remix" in which iconic moments from the history of photography and the media are represented through hand tracing and computer manipulation to create cartoon-like versions that critique the original images. These new versions of the original source material are simplified, carrying the essence of the original information so that is easily understood while reducing everything down to shape and colour. Conceptually his practise explores the role of the camera and photograph in the reception and understanding of reality, while aesthetically his images become representations of a hyper-real.

Ezawa and Lutz met while studying at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, and their thinking and working practise can in part be linked back to the indexical "Düsseldorf" approach to photography of the Bechers, linking back to August Sander, and forward to Thomas Struth, Andreas Gursky and Candida Höfer. This only goes so far however, with Kota Ezawa working in conceptual proximity to artists that restage historic and popular images like Sherrie Levine and Richard Prince, and Dietmar Lutz linked to the painting tradition of Manet.

More clearly, their shared conceptual approach to images can be read with reference to another Dusseldorf-based figure Hans-Peter Feldman, and his 1972 interview for Avalanche magazine: Q: "Are you attracted by the idea of working on a vast scale?", A: A picture of a magazine stand covered with glossy magazines. Q: "Could you be more specific about the relationship of your work to language?", A: A picture of a mini-skirted girl in a telephone box. Q: "Do you ever consider the political implications of your work?", A: A picture of Hitler Youth at an art exhibition. Q: "How do you define sculpture now?", A: "A picture of a chair".

Based in San Francisco, USA, Kota Ezawa was born in Cologne, Germany in 1969. He received his MFA from Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, in 2003. He was featured in solo exhibitions at St Louis Art Museum, MO (2008); the Hayward Gallery, London (2007); Emily Carr Institute, Vancouver (2007); Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA (2007); Artpace, San Antonio, TX (2006); Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT (2005) and has been included in group shows at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2006); Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France (2005) and The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA (2005).

Based in Düsseldorf, Germany, Dietmar Lutz was born in 1968 in Ellwangen, Germany. He received his MA at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in 1995. He has had solo exhibitions with Karyn Lovegrove, Los Angeles, CA (2006 / 2004), Emily Tsingou Gallery, London (2002 / 2003 / 2005) and Taché-Levy Gallery in Brussels (2006 / 2003) and has been included in group shows at the Bloomberg SPACE, London (2006), Frankfurter Kunstverein (2003), Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen (1999), Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (1998). As a member of the collective hobbypopMUSEUM he has exhibited at the 1st Athens Biennial (2007), Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, Israel ( 2007), Deste Foundation, Athens (2005), Deitch Projects, New York (2005), Tate Britain, London (2003).

Exhibition 14 March - 10 May 2008

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