Emil Lukas makes evident every process and part that goes into his work. Byproducts of his studio practice and the natural environment become source material for and subjects of works that are both painting and sculpture. The pieces are histories of their own inspiration and construction. Wide-ranging materials, including paper coffee cups used to mix paint, bottle caps, plaster casts of objects and body parts, organic residue, string, and bubble wrap are part of the archeology of each piece and the vocabulary of them all.


One of Lukas’ most eccentric processes uses living fly larvae to drag ink across a surface. Small works testify to the power of an individual calligraphic line. Large works made from the paths of tens of thousands evoke vascular systems, clouds of interstellar gasses, or interlaced tree branches as though viewed from below.


Chunky cast-plaster works are composed of a honeycomb of multitudes of cells, individually stained through an accrual of water-soluble pigments that get blotted out, are allowed to soak in, or evaporate to leave their crusty evidence. Seen head-on, the multi-colored pixels create shimmering fields – a kind of nonobjective pointillism. Viewed from the edge, they have the sculptural quality of soft stone, pitted and polished by water.


Lukas’ “puddle” works are history paintings, not in the sense of human narrative, but of geological time. Painted flat, he floods canvases with layer after layer of liquid. Sediments pool and collect, then dry leaving their traces. Subsequent layers obliterate, expose and affect what came before.


Lukas may be best known for his “Thread paintings” – shallow wooden trays over which he criss-crosses thread to create complex, glowing color fields. Each an experiment in color theory, they’re optical, phenomenological and astonishing.


Emil Lukas was born in Pittsburgh, PA in 1964 and now lives in Stockertown, PA. He has exhibited extensively internationally and has been collected by, among others, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Henry Art Gallery (University of Washington, Seattle), and the prestigious Panza di Biumo Collection.

Art Fairs
Studio views