Journey
7.9.-30.9.2012

Stockholm artist Lukas Göthman’s Journey exhibition continues his project of many years, which demonstrates the importance of place and memory; who are we, where do we come from, and where are we going?

This stage of the journey is definitely a new departure. Göthman’s paintings leave behind land and sea, at least, in the way that we have traditionally been accustomed to see and encounter them, both in the landscape and in paintings depicting the landscape. Now, the colors come at us, and they come at us fast. Oppressive reds, lurid yellows and stinging greens.

On this occasion, we journey into a world, into its physical and mental imagery, where the coordinates tell us something special and strange. We venture into the distance, somewhere between the Earth and Mars. Where the things we meet are both barren and beautiful, familiar and unknown.

Göthman’s journey is an unequivocally personal one. He paints and writes himself into the story and out of it, returning again and again. He seeks ways and means of achieving desires and needs that we all recognize: the compulsion and the desire to be and to get away, to come closer and to move far off. Together and separate. Away from both ourselves and our environment, from both the storm warnings in our heads and the patterns put there by the structures of society.

In this exhibition Göthman carries on his series of essays written in the first person, in which the journey passes through fells and the Stockholm archipelago, not forgetting the hotel room in Berlin and the old, ruined house in Latvia. The exhibition coincides with the release of Göthman’s latest catalogue. Lukas Göthman’s (b. 1970) previous solo exhibition in Finland, Views from a Journey, was shown at Gallery Kalhama & Piippo Contemporary in winter 2010.

'I like routines. When day and night flow together, and the writing and the painting are getting intense, I think it is nice that some things stay put, so you can go back and see what has happened and what has changed. And then do it all over again. These physical stations of the journey stay put. And I really like them.'

Lukas Göthman

Tukholmalaistaiteilija Lukas Göthmanin näyttely Journey (Matkalla) jatkaa hänen monivuotista projektiaan, jossa hahmotetaan paikan ja muistin merkitystä; keitä me olemme, mistä me tulemme ja minne olemme menossa.

Matkan tämänkertainen etappi on selkeä irtiotto. Göthmanin maalaukset jättävät maat ja meret; ainakin siten kuin me olemme perinteisesti tottuneet ne näkemään ja kohtaamaan, sekä maisemassa, että maalauksissa, joissa maisema on kuvattuna. Nyt värit tulevat päälle, ja ne tulevat päälle vauhdilla. Pakahduttavan punaisina, kelmeän keltaisina ja vihlovan vihreinä.

Tällä kertaa me matkaamme maailmaan, sen niin fyysisiin kuin mentaalisiin mielikuviin, joissa koordinaatit kertovat jotakin erikoista ja outoa. Seikkailemme kaukana, jossakin maan ja Marsin välissä. Siellä, missä kohtaamamme asiat ovat yhtäaikaisesti karuja ja kauniita, tuttuja ja tuntemattomia.

Göthmanin matka on luonteeltaan korostuneen henkilökohtainen. Göthman maalaa ja kirjoittaa itseään sisään tarinaan ja siitä pois, palaten sinne yhä uudelleen. Hän etsii tapoja ja keinoja toteuttaa haluja ja tarpeita, jotka me kaikki tunnistamme: pakko ja halu olla ja päästä pois, tulle lähemmäs ja siirtyä kauas. Yhdessä ja erikseen. Niin omasta itsestämme kuin ympäristöstämme, niin pään sisäisistä myrskyvaroituksista kuin yhteiskunnan rakenteiden asettamista virityksistä.

Göthman jatkaa näyttelyssään minä-muodossa kirjoitetun esseen sarjaa, jossa matka käy läpi tuntureiden ja tukholmalaisen saariston, unohtamatta hotellihuonetta Berliinissä ja raunioitunutta vanhaa taloa Liettuassa. Näyttelyn ohessa ilmestyy Göthman uusin katalogi.Lukas Göthmanin (s. 1970) edellinen yksityisnäyttely Suomessa, Views from a Journey, nähtiin Gallery Kalhama&Piippo Contemporaryssa talvella 2010.

Stockholmskonstnären Lukas Göthmans utställning Journey (På resa) är en fortsättning på hans mångåriga projekt där platsens och minnets betydelse gestaltas; vilka är vi, varifrån kommer vi och vart är vi på väg.

Den här gångens etapp för resan handlar tydligt om ett lösgörande. Göthmans målningar lämnar bakom sig landen och haven; i alla fall så som vi traditionellt har varit vana vid att se och möta dem, både i landskapet och i målningarna där landskapet är avbildat. Nu kommer färgerna över en, och det med kraft. Rött som får en att tappa andan, blekt gult och illande grönt.

Den här gången reser vi till en värld, till både de fysiska och mentala fantasibilderna av den, där koordinaterna berättar om någonting speciellt och underligt. Vi är på äventyr långt borta, någonstans mellan jorden och Mars. Där de saker vi möter är på en gång karga och vackra, bekanta och obekanta.

Göthmans resa är till sin natur uttalat personlig. Göthman målar och skriver in sig själv i berättelsen och ut ur den, och återvänder gång på gång dit. Han söker sätt och metoder att förverkliga önskningar och behov som vi alla känner igen: tvånget och viljan att vara borta och att komma bort, att närma sig och fjärma sig. Tillsammans och var för sig. Såväl från oss själva som från vår omgivning, såväl från de inre stormvarningarna i huvudet som från de spänningar som härrör ur samhällets strukturer.

Göthman fortsätter i sin utställning på en essäistisk serie som är skriven i jagform, där resan korsar tundror och den stockholmska skärgården, ett hotellrum i Berlin och en gammal husruin i Litauen inte att förglömma. Vid sidan om utställningen publiceras den nyaste katalogen om Göthman. Lukas Göthmans (född 1970) senaste separatutställning i Finland, Views from a Journey, sågs på Gallery Kalhama&Piippo Contemporary på vintern 2010.

Discussion – Lukas Göthman & Mika Hannula

It’s Not the Take Off, but the Landing …

Six stations of the Journey

1. Hotel room, Regent Hotel, Charlottenstr. Berlin, Germany

2. Koskele, Valmeira, Latvia

3. Stora Karlsö fyr, Gotland, Sweden

4. Lekarve forest, Sanda, Gotland, Sweden

5. Kallskär, Stockholm archipelago, Sweden

6. Fishing huts, Kaisepakte, Abisko, Sweden

Mika Hannula: Journey. Now it’s the name of the exhibition in Helsinki. A journey here, and there, with a beginning, and something that both comes from somewhere and is about to continue somewhere else. But in this specific case, where and how did it begin as an exhibition?

Lukas Göthman: I had been working with the previous journey, several exhibitions, and was getting tired of it. Not because the work was bad, but I was hungry for a new level. Every part of the journey involves leaving something behind when the time comes. Some of me is left behind, something new is discovered. Often, it is time and memories that are left behind. In this specific case, it started with a journey, let’s say, after a journey to Berlin.

MH: Your work focuses on the issues of place and identity – and using the means of both contemporary painting and writing. This time, again, the paintings have a clear connotation of landscapes – all of the histories and social imaginaries that they can carry with them.

The question is: a landscape of what, or from what? Dreams? Nightmares?

LG: Both from an imaginary world and some kind of inner subculture, private poetry. You could say they have been re-worked from a series of dogmas, but also without any, because I keep forgetting to use the dogmas when going into the studio’s world of opportunities. I like the idea of transforming states of mind into painting without an eye to the result, so it’s never obvious where it comes from. These pieces carry a lot of quite happy sleepless nights within them.

MH: Writing. For a visual artist, you certainly write a lot. What role does writing play in your painting process?

LG: I take the text with me into my painting, the text always comes first, and it can be a title or a whole scenario.

MH: Please give us an example of a title or a scenario connected with a work in the show?

LG: I lost my dog, I kind of promised the dog that he could come along with me to Härjedalen, the mountain region in northern Sweden, where I am doing a new ‘station’ for the project. When I got the dog’s ashes, they were packed strangely in a wooden box that looked like a little UFO. At the same time, I was writing a little piece about the dog, just to remember later. So I lost my friend and traveling companion. He is now in the short story journey, and in some of the titles, such as aliens ate my friend. In the story it says:

“Now my little animal is walking along an oak avenue. The trees are tall. Muffled and dusky, because the rays of the sun never penetrate to the ground. Flat soil beneath the paws of the animal, which, focusing, moves quickly straight ahead like an arrow. He trots along and the walk is long. Day after day and night after night, on the mother of all walks. Far away in the distance, a happy place awaits him. Enjoying himself, that’s what the little animal likes most of all.”

So … maybe he is going to Härjedalen anyway?

MH: As a starting point for this particular Journey exhibition in Helsinki, did you have a particular image or site from which to begin?

LG: I decided to begin after coming back to Stockholm from Berlin, so Berlin was the first thing on my mind this time. I went there with my wife and two lesbian friends. They had never been there, so we did Berlin in tourist style, and the lesbian world in Berlin, which I have never done before. For me it felt like starting with Berlin from the beginning. Instead of seeing Berlin almost like home, I saw the city through their eyes – big, abandoned, decadent, and both nice and hostile, building up while breaking down. Quite sad and beautiful. Late at night, in front of a building, destroyed by machine gun fire in World War Two, a good point of view for starting my Journey all over again.

On the other hand, I daydream every day of the year about walking in the mountains, and that place is Abisko, the last station. Before, I wrote about one place at a time, mixed with an idea. This time, the whole route is involved in a kind of “could have been” epic journey. And finally, the horizon has always been the starting point for my works.

MH: As regards the idea and ideas for the Journey, you, in fact, have six physical locations, ranging from a hotel room in Berlin and the ruin of an old aristocratic house in Lithuania, with many in-between stops at nature sites in Sweden, from mountain high to seaside low.

Where did it all start? And which of these is now the focal point?

LG: It started with a piece of land that I bought because I had to, but I really didn’t know what to do with it (the forest on Gotland known as Lekarve forest). I started writing stories that could have happened there. Later on, that became the first part of the journey, titled Views from Transit (shown at Björkholmen Gallery, Stockholm, and Rainier van Ewijk Projects, Amsterdam, and various fairs in 2009-2010). And it is almost always about the mountains, like the opposite of all the time I spend in big cities.

MH: About travelling and memory – and the visual images we associate with them. This is a very interesting point about your work: the images that we can relate to in the stories, they are very different from what we see and feel in the paintings. Of course, the connections have to be made by the individual viewer, but the striking feature is this: there is an evident difference between the landscapes in the story and in the paintings. They are not illustrations – not from a story to a painting, or vice versa, but they are something else. Are they actually landscapes or what?

LG: You’re right, but still, like a horror movie with happy music, I think this makes the effect stronger, like an already used scenario, not a worn-out one, but one on its own, not dependent, but with its own integrity. I use the memory of things I have seen, like the bottom part of these new paintings, which is a memory of some old books that I saw a long time ago. But I am not looking for the books when I am painting. In the process of hunting for the paintings, I actually lose the story. The paintings are still views or scenes for the story, but it is not important that they make sense in terms of where they come from, but they do still make sense in terms of where they are going.

Also, I love to paint. I want to have an opportunity to do that, even though the motif and technique are conceptual, I want them to have a certain freedom to create their own path, to fight over the same view. Even though they are like fragments of the story, they still make sense to me, within the idea of what they should be like. Then I turn them around, changing both the text and the paintings, and they fight against each other. The story can be a little bit sad sometimes. The same with the paintings. I think the tension between them makes good things happen.

MH: Back to the physical locations. I understand that you have purchased parts of these locations. Is the idea of owning them important, and if so, why?

LG: I like routines. When day and night flow together, and the writing and the painting are getting intense, I think it is nice that some things stay put, so you can go back and see what has happened and what has changed. And then do it all over again. These physical stations of the journey stay put. And I really like them.

MH: Finally, the most important question, taking us into the ever-fabulous, never-ending vaults of pop trivia. We come back to the mid 70’s, to music that had a peculiar name: AOR, which translates as Adult Orientated Rock, and was especially loved by the so-called white America listening on its car radios. So, the essential question, joining up the dots between memories, places and names: out of these three mid-70’s bands related to physical sites and situations, which one is or was your favorite: Boston, Kansas or Journey?

LG: In the mid 70’s I was hanging out with my bohemian grandmother. Every day of the week, she tried to get to the bank before 3 o’clock, when they closed, to check on the stock exchange. This was difficult, because she always slept until late after lunch. Going very fast in her car, we listened to fantastic music on the radio, it must have been Journey.

2.9.2012

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