The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Emil Lukas’ paintings bridge process, product

Photo by Pierson White for The Lafayette
Emil Lukas’ “Four Modes” celebrates the intersection between humans and nature.

What do larvae, threads and gravity have in common? If you somehow guessed the paintings of Pennsylvania native Emil Lukas, then you’d be correct. Now on display in the Grossman Gallery, Lukas’ “Four Modes” exhibit is designed to catch people’s eyes as they view his unconventional approach to painting.

On display are the four modes of Lukas’ approaches to painting: Puddle Paintings, Bubble Paintings, Thread Paintings and Larva Paintings.

“[Lukas] calls them collaborations with different elements,” Rico Reyes, the college’s director of galleries and curator of collections, said.

For the Puddle Paintings, Lukas punctures his canvas with a large screw and applies wet paint onto the manipulated canvas to create a sunken puddle effect.

Lukas explained that a unique quality of the Puddle Paintings is that the device used to puncture the canvas becomes part of the artwork.

“These paintings are a little bit unique because what’s giving it the shape is sort of superimposed over the painting,” Lukas said.

Lukas’ artistic process can be seen upon a glance at the paintings themselves.

“[Lukas] combines aesthetic techniques with scientific ideas … I think that’s a true collaboration that you’ll see with all of his work, that ties them all together,” Reyes said.

According to art professor Robert Mattison, Lukas’ artistic process is principally motivated by his fascination with nature.

“The tie between these works is Lukas’s profound involvement with his materials and with the natural world,” Mattison said. “In fact, the artist regards materials and nature as his collaborators in a process of ongoing pictorial experimentation.”

The most vivid expression of nature in the exhibit can be seen in Lukas’ Larva Paintings.

“[Lukas] sets up different parameters where … [the larvae] are on an inked surface and from the inked surface they go onto this prepared canvas where they kind of wiggle their way through and make lines,” Reyes said.

The result is thousands of lines that evoke traditional brushstrokes but have a more natural, unpredictable movement.

According to Reyes, the Bubble and Larva Paintings demonstrate that the creative processes of Lukas’ paintings tell a story just as detailed as the finished product.

“One of the words that would describe [Lukas’] work is ‘seductive’ because … you see it, and then it seduces you to come closer. There’s something about it that’s like, ‘Wait, how is that made?’ And then you have to walk to it,” Reyes said.

“There’s a process of investigation that happens in the making, but then there’s a different process of perception that happens in the viewing. And I want those two things to run parallel,” Lukas said.

Lukas’ paintings will be on display in the Grossman Gallery on Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. until April 15.

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Pierson White
Pierson White, Staff Photographer

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