Emil Lukas: Fine Line
19 October – 22 November 2023
Emil Lukas approaches his practice by dropping all preconceived notions of what a painting can or should be. From his choice of materials to his chromatic spectrums, Lukas’ wall-hanging works reimagine painting both materially and structurally.
In the Thread Paintings, Lukas begins by building rectangular or circular frames with aluminum or wooden armatures. To these he applies a concave plaster backing that captures and reflects light. Across these gaping surfaces, he hand-strings hundreds of layers and thousands of feet of thread, creating complex, glowing color fields that shape-shift throughout the day, depending on a viewer’s movement and perspective and the progress of natural light. Each an experiment in color theory, the Thread Paintings are optical, phenomenological, and astonishing.
In the contrasting cast-plaster works which Lukas calls Bubble Paintings, he creates a honeycomb of multitudes of cells, each individually stained through an accrual of water-soluble pigments that get blotted out or are allowed to soak in. The resulting multi-colored pixels create shimmering fields when viewed head-on – a kind of nonobjective pointillism. Viewed from the edge, they have the sculptural quality of soft stone, pitted and polished by water.
Emil Lukas was born in Pittsburgh in 1964 and lives in Easton, Pennsylvania. He has exhibited extensively internationally and has been collected by, among others, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Denver Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, San Jose Museum of Art, and the prestigious Panza di Biumo Collection.