Performance of emotion

German artist who studied with Lamar Dodd creates abstract paintings in his Berlin studio

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Performance of emotion

Johannes Lacher

Johannes Lacher discovered his interest in art when he was 14. Decades later, the German painter—who studied at UGA with Lamar Dodd—owns a studio in Berlin.

“Lamar Dodd [the renowned dean for whom the UGA School of Art is named] greeted me when I got to the school,” says Lacher (MFA ’70). With Dodd’s help, Lacher received a Ford Foundation Fellowship.

It was the beginning of a career that led Lacher to teach and serve as a visiting artist at schools in Wisconsin, Tennessee, Kansas, New Mexico, California and New York.

Now back in Germany, where he was born and raised, Lacher’s latest work is a series of abstract paintings that incorporate subdued acrylics, charcoal and India ink on paper five square feet in size.

“I have no direction when I begin,” Lacher says. “I just let the action flow. It’s a performance of things.”

“I did geometric pieces for several years, but got bored and changed. I’m not committed to one stylistic form.”

Martin Steffens, a Berlin-based art historian and curator, calls Lacher’s approach a “spontaneous emotional reaction.” Steffens writes that Lacher’s horizontal stripes of layered color “toyed with the common ground between musical and visual ideas.”

Lacher’s trumpet rests on a stool in his studio.

After spending two decades in the U.S., Lacher returned to Germany after its reunification in 1990, first living in Constance, in southern Germany, but moving to Berlin because it was “the hottest spot,” he says.

Lacher grew up in a small city near Kassel, where he went to the first Documenta (now a renowned international art exhibition) when he was 14. That experience “did something to me,” he says, and he began to pursue a career in art. After graduating from an art academy in Munich, Lacher contacted an uncle living in Athens, Ga., who had gone to UGA.

“The real benefit of my UGA education was not only did I get a lot of different viewpoints from the faculty and my classmates, but I also learned to be my own self,” he says.

An administrator in the Dean of Women’s office, who worked with international students, helped him get a green card so he could stay in the U.S. to teach and paint.

Forty-four years later his creations continue to evolve.

“Painting has been declared dead at least three times over the years I can recall,” he says. “Today painting is being rediscovered again and I certainly have nothing against that.”

—John W. English, UGA professor emeritus of journalism, is a frequent contributor to GM.