15 Oct Emil Lukas, painting with silk
When we think of contemporary art, what we think of at first are performances, exhibitions, video-art, photography, digital art and other techniques and languages/means of communication which stimulates a sort of conceptual creativity. Only later we think about painting and sculpture, probably because these are disciplines linked to a much more typical conception of art. In the past, during the Modern Era, artistic routes changed by going along the fundamental objective of painting: studying the color, the sign of the brush, the choice of hemp canvas.
But what if the canvas was “painted” with silk yarns?
“Thread paintings”, this is how Emil Lukas defines his works of art, where a thin yarn connects what is usually considered as painting with techniques like sculpture and art exhibition. It seems like the evolution of that research over color started with Modernists, a research which finds in Lukas’ silk yarn the best material to fill the canvas and to dispel the borders among different artistic genres. This results in the “painting” having a contemporary dimension, where visual conception and external beauty melt.
Lukas, an American artist born in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania), starts to experiment the yarn as drawing material at the end of 1980s, inheriting the passion for unusual materials from his mother, a craftswoman. Through this sort of “raw materials” – from yarns to biological products like little larvas – Lukas gives birth to works of art which are almost impossible to categorize.
In his pieces, thin threads intertwine and create a 3D and polychrome weft which changes according to the light. Little larvas builds up ink nets similar to abstract paintings. Lukas’ artistic process does not seem complicated at a first sight, but the eye is tricked by distance; when we get closer to his works of art, we see how complex they are, and this discovery gives some kind of magic to the artistic process.
In an interview with the director of Philadelphia Contemporary, Lukas stated that among all the materials he uses to build up his abstract and complex artistic language, he has a particular preference for silk since it is thinner and more elegant compared to polyester-made yarn. Such qualities of silk yarns allow Emil Lukas to create pieces with a softer and more ethereal appearance, like his “thread paintings”.