Eva Lootz, half a century between water and fire

Tuesday, June 11, 2024, 16:28

The first piece in the exhibition is a volcano. The last one, a waterfall. They are fire and water, elements between which Eva Lootz (Vienna, 1940) has moved and moves. Both are also the summary of ‘Do as they say: and what is this?’, the exhibition that the Reina Sofía Museum dedicates to the long journey through the subject of the heterogeneous and experimental Austrian artist living in Spain for ten years before death of Franco.

“She is one of the founders of modernity” in the opinion of Manuel Segade, director of the public museum that reviews Lootz’s career over half a century in one of the first exhibitions outside the legacy of Manuel Borja-Villel, which he left samples scheduled until 2026.

It is a journey through the material and multifaceted art of this creator of multiple registers who soon abandoned the most conventional artistic paths to work with ecology, language, feminism and, above all with matter, in a “hypercomplex production capable of offering a sensory experience,” according to Segade. Lootz speaks of an investigation “into the gap between language and the visible.”

Fernando López, a former assistant of the artist, is the curator of the exhibition that until September 2 brings together in thirteen rooms a hundred works arranged in a “panoramic and non-chronological order” tour through all of Lootz’s stages. “It is a sensory journey through the different states of matter,” summarizes the curator, who has included works never seen or recreated for the exhibition and 30 of the 36 that the artist donated last year to the Reina Sofía.

One of the 13 rooms in the exhibition, dedicated to drawings.

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From large installations to tiny pieces, there are paintings, sculptures, videos, photographic series, sound works and drawings to which he pays special attention. “Between the score and the text, they constitute a kind of parallel writing that accompanies his investigations and function, at times, like a true diary,” says López of the drawings.

Away from the self

“My work has gone in parallel with the advent of a new concept of matter,” confirms the octogenarian artist. «I did not and do not want to make subjective statements or give opinions. My distancing from the self gives all the prominence to the matter and the creative processes,” adds Lootz, who already warned in the seventies that “what I had to say does not interest me at all.”

In his journey towards the plenitude of the material, he left the canvas and the frames very early to experiment with paraffin, lead, tin or mercury and an infinite number of materials: from felt to wood, through rubber, sand, paper, marble or textiles. Today he dares to assure that “matter is not a reality, it is an encounter, which allows new realities to be created.”

‘A Farewell to Isaac Newton’. Installation from 1994. Eva Lootz.

Eph.

With the phrase ‘Do as they say: and what is this?’ Lootz alludes to a certain way of understanding the activity of art: that of allowing oneself, by doing, to interrogate the world from scratch. Very active, he now has three exhibitions underway. Added to that of the Reina Sofía are those dedicated to it by the Alcalá 31 room in the Community of Madrid and Kubo Kutxa in San Sebastián.

Elementary porridges

The works that Lootz made during the 1970s, a stage that she calls “elementary mush”, coincided with the evolution of processual or anti-form art in the United States and Europe, in which the creative process was as important or more important than the final score. These pieces “focus on the literality of their materials,” while her later creations “investigate the materiality of language,” notes the curator. In 2007, Lootz assured that his work is “crossed by an obvious thread that passes through the loss, the disappearance, the trace, the scattering, the spilling, the presence of what is denied, the being pierced, and the impossible congruence, the gap.” between language and the visible.

His work also asks about contemporary visuality, “about our overexposure and oversaturation of images that produce blindness”, about the impact of digital culture and its consequences on our experience of things. Lootz thus asks how to access what is hidden in the blind corners of vision. She refers to this endeavor as “looking out of the corner of the eye”, a way of avoiding the frontal gaze – which is the strategy of those who have historically been relegated to the margins of culture, such as women – but also another way of read the world Not in vain, at 84 years old, Lootz says he belongs “to the generation that put the imposition of patriarchy and violence on the table.”

One of Eva Lootz’s sculptures included in the exhibition.

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Trained as a filmmaker in Vienna after studying philosophy, Lootz settled in Spain in 1965, together with Adolfo Schlosser. In 1973 she exhibited at the Ovidio gallery and has developed the bulk of her career here. Very close to the generation that renewed Spanish plastic arts in the eighties – the remembered Juan Muñoz, Cristina Iglesias, Navarro Baldeweg, Susana Solano and Miquel Navarro –, Lootz obtained the National Prize for Plastic Arts in 1994. Her work is in large collections and museums in our country: MACBA, in Barcelona; IVAM, in Valencia; ARTIUM Basque Center-Museum of Contemporary Art, in Vitoria and the Patio Herreriano Museum in Valladolid.

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