Galerie Wagner + Partner

Claas Gutsche

Changing truth

9/12/2014 – 10/25/2014

Artist Talk with Sven Drühl at the gallery, 16 Oct 2014

Claas Gutsche (*1982) makes linocut prints, a traditional graphic technique that is recently experiencing a revival. His oft large-format works on Japanese paper explore the reinterpretation of media-related images.

With Changing Truth Gutsche investigates his heritage further, exclusively exploring former East-German (GDR) architecture and remains. How does architecture influence our memory of a specific time and how do images, particularly photographs, retrospectively alter these impressions?
In these deserted scenes Gutsche refers to the fact that architecture is always associated with its historical context. The original photographs sourced by Gutsche once salvaged this history. Through the characteristic high-contrast black and white look of the lino print they are now reduced to light and shadow – to visibility or erasure.

The "Kunst am Bau", like exterior wall paintings is a German public art scheme that continues to engage public appeal. Similarly a tapestry shrouds the themes and symbolism of the facade's figures – and hence the actual building's function.
The work Der neue Mensch (The new men) highlights a typical sidewall, often presented as an exterior painting or mosaic and here as the former Magnet department store in Eisenhüttenstadt. Walther Womacka's painting Produktion im Frieden (peacetime production) is emblazoned on a building like an advertising banner and although it was once a political declaration, today it is still publically visible and yet hard to decipher. With the fall of the GDR the meanings of the large-scale wall paintings and mosaics have lost their prominence. When the buildings are destroyed, the notions gleaned via the original photographs will be what remain.

Concrete illustrates façade elements that are so strongly associated with GDR architectural history, although they can no longer be assigned to any one particular building or function. The adornment is a discreet and yet very "concrete" symbol. Seemingly banal exterior and interior aspects conceal dozens of images that only GDR residents will recognize and associate with memories related to occurrences, encounters or historical moments.
In this respect Gutsche's lino prints are clearly grounded within a historical context and are characterised by a multi-faceted subject matter, which reveals itself to the viewer over time.