Arbour Vitae, 1999

Arbor Vitae I, 1999, oil and tar on canvas, 72 x 90 inches

October 1 – 30, 1999
Diane Farris Gallery
Vancouver, BC

The exhibition will showcase paintings which dramatically differ in subject to his earlier bodies of work, but which ultimately share a commonality: art historic traditions, and specifically his identity as an artist within those traditions. In Arbor Vitae, the artist provides a topical discourse on the power of artmaking. This series will undoubtedly surprise and delight those who have followed Lukacs’ work over the years.

These new paintings depart from the type of paintings for which he is best known: large spectacles with life size figures. The suite of thirteen paintings in Arbor Vitae depict abstract visions looking skyward from the base of silhouetted trees. Lukacs’ canvases look old and worn; they are sparsely painted, built of stains and smears of paint and tar on an open field of raw canvas. His surfaces are organic and bring forth metaphorical associations of physical decay and architectural ruin. Instead of the public statements which screamed from his brutally explicit earlier works, these elegant paintings provide the viewer with a more introspective and private message.

Lukacs drew his inspiration from the photographic oeuvre of the Russian Constructivist artist/photographer Alexander Rodchenko (1891-1956). The radical new vision Rodchenko lent to photography, exaggerating the perspectives and dramatically cropping the image, framed the world in a new way.

People are saying: ‘we’re fed up with Rodchenko’s photographs. They’re all taken from above down and from below up.’ Well, people have been photographing from ‘middle to meddle’ for about a hundred years.”    Alexander Rodchenko, LEF Notebook, 1927

Lukacs brings to the old master reference his own individual style using palette and paintbrush. In this way, his work goes beyond mere mimicry.

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