The first time we saw an exhibition by Urs Lüthi we were extremely impressed. It is difficult to explain the reasons, however obvious, for the natural magnetism of this man, who succeeds in transferring it directly and with naturalness onto canvas. The photographic prints on canvas of the 1970s reveal the printing process of the time but, above all, the embryo of his artistic path, marked by the "self" and by the "other". This artist presents himself, and his body, as though it belonged to another, to a model close to him, with an apparent lightness and ambiguity that are rare.
It would be simplistic to attempt to situate his work in the context of "body-art", in that although Lüthi pursues the body, and its different possibilities of expressing situations/emotions, in my opinion, he has different objectives. It is the psychological aspect of the human
figure (his in particular, in the works of the 70s) that interests him both through exhibitionism and disguise. A marked irony underlies the work and the artist is not so much interested in the possible "story" that the image can evoke, as in the varied reading that the viewer can derive from it independently. He plays in a very serious way with postures, attitudes, but it is the inner side that he wishes to highlight. His beautiful, even effeminate body, that makes him almost resemble an ephebe, becomes a means to transgress the most consummate perception, shared by society, of the human image. He treats his body as though it belonged to another person: sex loses importance, the narcissistic aspect remains crucial, but it is overcome by the intelligence, the inventiveness, the ability to seek the ambiguity inside/outside of that body that seems not to belong to him other than for the purpose of realising his canvases.
Less playful than they might seem at first sight, the photos capture moments of life and states of mind. Although not exclusively (in the sense that his subjects were varied), he would also continue to focus on his body in the years that followed, once beauty had abandoned him and, older and fatter, he would not be afraid to be ironical about his own image, exhibiting in a Venice Biennale in the early 2000s, a sculpture/cast of himself that depicts him as a gauche tourist in bermuda shorts in an almost playful manner (lying on a pedestal).
He is a great artist, whose presence/testimony will remain in the history of contemporary art. I loved this work at first sight. I don't know how to express my attraction. I think the most precise thing I can say is that this work withstands silence. A quality that is not to be ignored, because in silence it enters your imagination, it leads you into a situation that is "unexpressed", namely into its ambivalent world between reality and pretence.