Avant-garde music and cinema installation comes to New Plymouth's Len Lye Centre

Oskar Fischinger Raumlichtkunst installation is now being exhibited at the Len Lye Centre.
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Oskar Fischinger Raumlichtkunst installation is now being exhibited at the Len Lye Centre.

For the first time since opening almost two years ago, the Len Lye Centre's Large Works gallery is exhibiting the offerings of another artist.

In New Zealand for the first time, the bold, eye-catching colour from Oskar Fischinger's Raumlichtkunst cinema installation currently saturates the New Plymouth exhibition space, where it will remain on display until August.

Fresh from New York, where it was exhibited at the Whitney Museum, the work is a three-projector HD video installation using film preserved from original 1920's nitrates. 

Fischinger was a German-American abstract animator, filmmaker and painter renowned for creating abstract musical animation decades before the arrival of computer graphics and music videos.

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Best known for his work on the Disney classic Fantasia, Fischinger used bold, strong, saturated colour in his animation work, often tightly synchronised to music.

Raumlichtkunst was first shown in Germany in 1926, and reconstructed by the Center for Visual Music in Los Angeles in 2012.

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery Director Simon Rees said the installation was a masterpiece of experimental filmmaking coupled with avant-garde modern music.

"Its combination of colour shapes, movement and music will be immediately familiar to the audiences who know and love Len Lye's work."

Fischinger's practice has influenced generations of filmmakers and animators, including Len Lye. The two artists were contemporaries, both working with colour abstract film in the 1930s.

Rees said the pair fed off each other's creative filmmaking practice from afar.

Evidence of this was seen in another of the centre's exhibitions, On an Island, where scrapbook notes collected by Lye referencing Fischinger's work could be viewed.

Director of the Center for Visual Music in Los Angeles, Cindy Keefer, said Fischinger performed several different versions of these multiple projector shows under the same concept name of Raumlichtkunst.

These shows were some of the earliest multi-media works to use abstract film, she said.

​Several of Fischinger's films would be screened in the Len Lye Centre Cinema during the exhibition season.

"We are delighted to present Raumlichtkunst here, and to further explore the relationship of Fischinger and Lye," Keefer said.

"The gallery's work bringing international art cinema to New Zealand, and working with curators around the globe, is creating a vibrant, important centre for cinema".

 - Stuff

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