Otto Zitko


getting hot

“Obviously a drawing of a person is not a real person, but a drawing of a line is a real line.”
(From: Andrew Wilson, “Sol LeWitt Interviewed”, in: Sol LeWitt, Critical Texts. Adachiara Zevi (ed.), Rome 1995, p. 125)

If we take a look at the meaning of a line in Otto Zitko’s work, we will see that he uses it very deliberately in a number of different ways. Responding to the operative possibilities of a particular situation, sometimes he opens up an illusory space where the drawing develops, other times his line networks focus on the architectural structure of the real space. In his all-over space drawings (the latest examples of his works have been on display in Arnolfini in Bristol and can now be seen in Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin until 31.12.2010), the line takes over the function of defining the spatial structure and dimension. In its interaction with architecture, the line itself becomes an autonomous matter. However, if we look at Zitko’s serial works on aluminium or paper, we will find other approaches, where the line refers to an issue beyond the drawing and provokes illusionistic projections in our perception.

In the exhibition getting hot at Krobath Berlin, Otto Zitko presents a series of large-format aluminium panels, which – if we choose – we can interpret as a kind of “expression” of a psycho-physical event. It is possibly the intimate and private atmosphere of the artist’s workshop that drives this devotion to the private self. Unlike in his all-enveloping in situ works, the analytical aspect no longer plays a central role. Here, there is no need to pay attention to perspectives, viewing angle and harmony with external factors. And these works do not involve physical effort, which must be carefully regulated and directed in the space drawings. The artist can devote himself to the process of mental and physical experience.

The title of the exhibition, with its double meaning, already makes reference to a sensual experience. It is getting hotter and hotter. Considering the time of year these paintings were created, namely in the heat of the summer, the title can also be taken literally. The result is blood red, elliptical forms, and it is no coincidence that they are reminiscent of the female vulva. Otto Zitko engages in a hypnotic cycle, revolving around himself. He gets, or rather paints, himself into an absolutely private state. It is private because in the moment of creation he neither needs to take account of external circumstances, nor does he claim to be making a verifiable statement. The interpretation remains open, but our perception of the works is a result of our own projections. In this case, the line acts as an illusionistic and psycho-motoric expression.

The idea behind the picture comes into being during the creation process. The space between the artist and his object gradually decreases, until everything becomes blurred and the distanced view controlling the critical mind has all but disappeared. The acts of thinking and feeling turn into an unconsciously controlled flow of signs and symbols. Analysis is only possible by taking a step back and regaining the distance. Otto Zitko rescues himself from a somnambulistic condition and obtains an overview and a clear perception. He resolutely sets and repeats a few lines in blue, black and silver, which revise, magnify or emphasise. This revision is a signal-like gesture which brings a formal conclusion to the work and bears testimony to the reclamation of control and awareness.

With a focus on the various frameworks (experiences of production and perception, varying states of consciousness involving not only instants of blurred vision but also moments of clarity and analytical insight, conveyance of expression and conceptual form, etc.), Otto Zitko’s works invariably comprise variant forms of his line systems.

© Linda Klösel, Vienna 2010
English translation: Mandana Taban