Originally from Cologne, Germany, and established in the municipality of Saint-Chrysostome for many years, artist Detlef Gotzens’s new exhibition, L’art dans son époque, is on display at the Musée de société des Deux-Rives (MUSO) in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield from February 9 to April 2.
Featured in this exhibition is Gotzens’s contemporary version of Massacre of the Innocents by artist Paul Rubens which, as per the artist, “proposes to explore the links between an artist and his time, and the recurrence of certain themes across periods.” The pieces on display demonstrate Gotzens’s preferred techniques which merge the abstract and figurative, to alter portraiture and interrupt conventional concepts.
“I am best known for my abstract work, although I also use figurative elements in my work. I don’t differentiate between them,” shares Gotzens. With visual creations that can be compared to artists such as Dali and Picasso, he uses materials, photos, emotions, and recurring elements to create a sense of disruption or disorder. “There is always meaning in every work I do,” says Gotzens. “Successful abstract work is very challenging and intellectually stimulating.” He also says his work is not based on an aesthetic outcome.
When asked where he gets his inspiration Gotzens says, “People think there is always a specific beginning or idea behind the work, but that’s not true, or [it’s] rarely true.” He quotes an American artist, Chuck Close – an influential contemporary portrait painter – in saying, “Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.” Gotzens suggests it can be difficult to talk about art in general, because the concept that art can be created without an original idea is foreign to many people.
“In the case of my version of Massacre of the Innocents, this piece is intentionally loaded with metaphors and messages,” he says. “It is also a reinterpretation of Rubens’s 1612 painting. This version represents, very specifically, a snapshot of our time; but even more so, it is a vision of my own time and space.”
Gotzens is also currently working on a project, entitled Corona Mountains, which is inspired by the pandemic; he is striving to illustrate a metaphor about this period and the human condition. “I will be completing all the works during this year and will probably show this project for the first time in 2024,” he says. “There could be a total of 12 paintings and two sculptures.”
Gotzens’s current exhibition at MUSO will end on April 2. The museum is open Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.