Joachim Luetke and the beauty of the Apocalypse
Born in 1957 in Germany, he studied art in Switzerland during the late seventies, and improved his unique, disturbing talent at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Austria from 1980 to 1986. He still lives in Vienna as a successful multimedia artist.
"Joachim Luetke is driven by a hostility against civilization: he feels so ill at ease in our culture that he simulates archaic and even prearchaic cults in order to get to the roots of real existence. In these antediluvian places of worship he becomes the designer of the most crafty theogonic machines. The more unreal the device, the bigger its hallucinating distinctness. When I look at Luetke's pictures, I find myself confronted with a sensational archaeologic discovery; its condition seems so fabulous that I can fully detect the sophistic technology and experience the subtle odd functionalism of these ghostly machines. It is one of the main features of these devices that their appearances are of almost seductive superreality and entice me to abandon my civilizing reserves in order to experience the true existence of the discoveries, which are presented with utmost credibility. I cannot evade the suggestive power of this extraordinary artist." Prof. Rudolf Hausner: Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, Austria
HMA: Welcome Joachim Luetke to Heavy Music Artwork.
Joachim Luetke: Thanks a lot.
HMA: What is your background and what kind of art training have you received?
Joachim Luetke: I actually wanted to become a graphic designer, so I went to Switzerland to the Art and Crafts School in Basle, which turned out to be a dead end street – at least to my eyes. After quitting I improved my capabilities as a classical painter and sculptor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Austria. That’s where I got introduced to the theories and works of Fantastic Realism, which is a more “dreamy” sub genre of Surrealism.
HMA: How would you describe your style and philosophy as an artist?
Joachim Luetke: In my youth, of course, I admired the surrealists. Their views were simply familiar to me. I intuitively understood their graphic language. However, they could not really show me anything new. Then one day, during my graphic arts education in Switzerland, I ran into H.R. Giger's first art-catalog. This was long before he became famous for Alien. It was like a kind of "Twilight of the Gods" for me. There it was, the UNSPEAKABLE (in a "Lovecraftian sense"), presented with an absolute matter-of-factness, as though it was the most natural thing in the world. Thanks to Giger I found the courage to give hard-lined shape to my own visions - without paying any attention to internal and external conventions.
You know, I have no relationship whatsoever with what is commonly referred to as "Cultureburgh" (see Tom Wolfe's "The Painted Word"), which, in fact, is just a small global community of collectors, galleries, museums and art-critics = a money machine.
I decided early on not to become a part of this promising, yet very suffocating system. To me movies like Bladerunner, Alien or Hellraiser are true contemporary works of art; kind of legitimate successors of classical fine arts. At present however, the only true creative power, namely "THE ATTACK!” is the undisputed domain all variations of Heavy Metal. This is where I’d like to see my art: Blocked in between the “stress-fields” of “hard” music and movie-making.
HMA: I believe your mentor was “psychic realist” master Rudolf Hausner; right? What guidance and inspiration have you benefitted?
Joachim Luetke: Actually it’s called Fantastic Realism, more or less a sub-genre of Surrealism. Hausner taught me how to visualize my “inner cinema”. “Whatever imagery you draw or paint - no matter how surreal, try to make it look as realistic and convincing as possible –make it PLAUSIBLE ”. With statements like that he guided me to what I wanted to achieve in the first place: How to give CONVINCING shape to my nightmares and fears!
HMA: When did you first notice your own style emerging and maturing to what it is today?
Joachim Luetke: Dimmu Borgir’s Death Cult Armageddon album marks the ultimate turning point for me. The very moment when everything suddenly fell right into its place. (Thanks a heap for the opportunity, guys!).
HMA: What do you feel is the most important technique in your art?
Joachim Luetke: To me sculpting is still very important. To work with all kinds of materials like wood, cloth-material, bones and iron - it makes you feel very close to the phenomenon called creation. To bring a sculpture to life is a kind of magic. As I mentioned before I quit classical painting years ago. That was when I got my first MAC and Photoshop. Photoshop works the same way like classical mixed media-painting technique does. The secrets behind both of them are the layers and how they influence each other.
HMA: Your work is assembled with different styles and media such photography, installation, sculpture and digital. Would you say is a necessity or an ambition?
Joachim Luetke: All these styles determine each other in a way. Due to its three dimensional character a sculpture is mainly the starting point from which I combine all other styles. The outcome of this is e.g. the photographical stuff I use for creating digital artwork. To tell you the truth, I can't separate these styles properly. My work itself determines what to use during the process – so I stopped to question this “mechanism” long time ago.
HMA: What subjects and symbolism are we exposed to?
Joachim Luetke: Basically VIOLENCE! No simple physical violence - rather a multi-dimensional one, which comes for you like a creeping disease you fail to get rid of. No matter how you try. That's what I try to depict until today. Another influence is Voodoo-philosophy and related stuff. My work has a lot in common with the visual aspect of Voodoo (and the philosophical too, I think). The way they prepare the materials their sculptures are made of is very similar to mine. This, along with a certain “magikal lore” are definitely two of the main sources my art and therefore symbolism originates from.
HMA: Moving on some of the artists you have worked with... the first that comes to mind that deserves a massive attention is Sopor Aeternus.
Joachim Luetke: Anna Varney is one of the most enigmatic characters I ever met. There is no false attitude – Varney impersonates gothic. In my opinion she is the Queen of Goth! Plus she is a real professional.
HMA: How is the relationship between you and the artist? What kind of creative relationship do you share and have?
Joachim Luetke: Certain aspects in an artist’s music must somehow “kickstart” my inner cinema. If this doesn’t work I refuse working for them, ‘cause being able to “decipher” someone’s music in order to understand the mood, the emotions is mandatory – at least to me. “Music” in this particular case contains the lyrics as well! My task is to VISUALIZE what I hear AND understand, not to just come up with some catchy images, which are more or less connected to God-knows-what.
HMA: Dimmu Borgir is also another artist that you have done a significant amount of work.
Joachim Luetke: Well, working for Dimmu Borgir is always something very exceptional, very unique. Their music is extremely visual and kickstarts my imagination almost immediately.
HMA: Has Heavy Metal been a useful outlet to publish and make your art known in the world?
Joachim Luetke: Definitely!! I always felt a tight connection between my work and Heavy Metal! You know, I grew up with the father of shock-rock, Alice Cooper. I'm a fan of his music until today. In the seventies Alice Cooper appeared in some of Salvador Dali's holographic experiments. And that's what thrilled me: Surrealism and shock-rock were one of a kind! I suddenly realized clearly the relations between some disciplines of fine arts (back in the day) and rock-music: POWER AND IRRITATION!
HMA: Have you considered to have your work as part of a feature film?.. kind of in the same line what they have done with Gigers’ Aliens.
Joachim Luetke: Guess what – that’s exactly what I’m working on right now. It’s a fat Dark Fiction/Horror feature film and we’re already busy with a shitload of pre-production stuff. It’s supposed to hit cinemas in about three years from now.
HMA: What is ultimate ambition as an artist of your stance?
Joachim Luetke: Same as it ever was. Tearing down visual boundaries. Taking no prisoners in the process. No rest for the wicked J
HMA: Looking at your studio from the YouTube video... what is like to have build the perfect netherworld retreat.
Joachim Luetke: Oh, that’s a work in progress. My studio looks quite different these days plus I’m planning to build my ultimate version in the near future, a combination of high end workstations and Kutna Hora.
HMA: To me is the perfect home, cozy, interesting and perfect for inspirations. Does it also serve as your place of residence?
Joachim Luetke: Yes. I always lived and will continue to live amidst my work. That’s a necessity for me since I work continuously on all kinds of stuff.
HMA: Have you ever scared the gasman for an instance?
Joachim Luetke: Nope. How about Jehovah’s Witnesses, hehe?
HMA: In Cefalu, Sicily, Aleister Crowley’s house was and to some levels still is a mystery and charmingly nicknamed by the locals “the haunted house”. Does your dwellings have the same reputation?
Joachim Luetke: Well, I’m working hard on that! We recently moved into a manor, built in 1907, which will take me a good step closer to that goal. Seems I’m up to the task now ;-)
HMA: Thanks for this interview and your interest in Heavy Music Artwork.
Joachim Luetke: Well, the pleasure was on my side.
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