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Press Release

For the 2020 edition of The Art Show, Sperone Westwater will feature new works by American artist Emil Lukas.

The centerpiece is his most recent and ambitious Larva work to date, Not on Another Planet, 2019, comprised of seventy small-scale paintings made using just two key elements: soot, in the form of Sumi ink, and the markings of common house- fly larvae on glass plates. Thin films of plastic or rice paper are compressed between the glass and whitewashed wood panels, resulting in varying degrees of transparency. While Lukas has worked with larvae for over thirty years, he introduced Sumi ink to this series only last year and quickly discovered a fluidity and rich spectrum of tones that amplify the illusion of layered depth already present in this body of work.

Although his practice is diverse, Lukas is best known for his Thread paintings in which colored thread accumulates around a wooden frame to luminous effect. Made alongside his other bodies of work, these reflect Lukas’s fascination with the optical properties of his chosen materials and formats, as well as a painterly attention to issues of color; he has characterized them as being “much closer to formal wet-on-wet watercolor paintings than they are to anything in the textile field.”

New circular Thread paintings, a format first exhibited in his 2019 show at Sperone Westwater, suggest the tondo format of classical art history, while their concave supports implicate the viewer in a surprisingly physical way. Standing in front of the work, the viewer finds the ambient noise of the space to be disorientingly concentrated and amplified. For Lukas, this aspect of the work marks a way of working with space as well as with optical concerns.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1964, Emil Lukas has exhibited throughout the United States and abroad. Solo exhibi- tions at museums include the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT (2005); the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC (2005); the Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh (2005); and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadel- phia (2016). His work is in private and public collections, including the Panza Collection, Italy; the Dakis Joannou Collection, Greece; the Anderson Collection, Stanford University; Baltimore Museum of Art; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas; Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the UBS Art Collection; and Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC. In 2011, Lukas had his first exhibition at Sperone Westwater, where he has continued to exhibit regularly (2014, 2017, 2019).

Selected Works1

Selected Works1 Thumbnails
Emil Lukas Not on Another Planet, 2019

Emil Lukas
Not on Another Planet, 2019
hand-ground Sumi ink with mixed media between wood and glass seventy parts
14 x 11 x 1 3/4 inches (35,6 x 27,9 x 4,4 cm) each
15 1/8 x 12 1/8 x 1 3/4 inches (38,4 x 30,8 x 4,4 cm) each frame
83 x 194 inches (210,8 x 492,8 cm) overall as installed
SW 20001

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Emil Lukas Inquiry of Even Expanse, 2019

Emil Lukas
Inquiry of Even Expanse, 2019
thread over aluminum and wood frame with plaster, paint and nails 49 1/2 x 49 1/2 x 6 1/8 inches (125,7 x 125,7 x 15,6 cm)
SW 20006

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Emil Lukas Weight of the Unseen, 2020

Emil Lukas
Weight of the Unseen, 2020
thread over aluminum and wood frame with plaster, paint and nails
59 1/2 x 59 1/2 x 7 3/4 inches (151,1 x 151,1 x 19,7 cm)
SW 20012

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Emil Lukas Worn Crater, 2019

Emil Lukas
Worn Crater, 2019
thread over wood structure with plaster, burlap, brass nails and paint 
30 1/4 x 30 1/4 x 2 inches (76,8 x 76,8 x 5 cm)
SW 19054

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Emil Lukas Soot Twin, 2019

Emil Lukas
Soot Twin, 2019
hand-ground Sumi ink on glass with paper in painted wood frame diptych
14 x 11 inches (35,6 x 27,9 cm) each
15 1/8 x 23 1/4 x 2 inches (38,4 x 59,1 x 5,1 cm) frame
SW 19355

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Emil Lukas Plate, 2019

Emil Lukas
Plate, 2019
hand-ground Sumi ink on glass with paper in painted wood frame
15 1/8 x 12 1/8 x 1 3/4 inches (38,4 x 30,8 x 4,5 cm)
SW 20026

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Emil Lukas fabric for two large curtains, 2018

Emil Lukas
fabric for two large curtains, 2018
acrylic on plaster in aluminum frame
12 x 14 3/4 x 2 inches (30,5 x 37,5 x 5,1 cm)
SW 18134

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Emil Lukas Not on Another Planet, 2019

Emil Lukas
Not on Another Planet, 2019
hand-ground Sumi ink with mixed media between wood and glass seventy parts
14 x 11 x 1 3/4 inches (35,6 x 27,9 x 4,4 cm) each
15 1/8 x 12 1/8 x 1 3/4 inches (38,4 x 30,8 x 4,4 cm) each frame
83 x 194 inches (210,8 x 492,8 cm) overall as installed
SW 20001

Emil Lukas Inquiry of Even Expanse, 2019

Emil Lukas
Inquiry of Even Expanse, 2019
thread over aluminum and wood frame with plaster, paint and nails 49 1/2 x 49 1/2 x 6 1/8 inches (125,7 x 125,7 x 15,6 cm)
SW 20006

Emil Lukas Weight of the Unseen, 2020

Emil Lukas
Weight of the Unseen, 2020
thread over aluminum and wood frame with plaster, paint and nails
59 1/2 x 59 1/2 x 7 3/4 inches (151,1 x 151,1 x 19,7 cm)
SW 20012

Emil Lukas Worn Crater, 2019

Emil Lukas
Worn Crater, 2019
thread over wood structure with plaster, burlap, brass nails and paint 
30 1/4 x 30 1/4 x 2 inches (76,8 x 76,8 x 5 cm)
SW 19054

Emil Lukas Soot Twin, 2019

Emil Lukas
Soot Twin, 2019
hand-ground Sumi ink on glass with paper in painted wood frame diptych
14 x 11 inches (35,6 x 27,9 cm) each
15 1/8 x 23 1/4 x 2 inches (38,4 x 59,1 x 5,1 cm) frame
SW 19355

Emil Lukas Plate, 2019

Emil Lukas
Plate, 2019
hand-ground Sumi ink on glass with paper in painted wood frame
15 1/8 x 12 1/8 x 1 3/4 inches (38,4 x 30,8 x 4,5 cm)
SW 20026

Emil Lukas fabric for two large curtains, 2018

Emil Lukas
fabric for two large curtains, 2018
acrylic on plaster in aluminum frame
12 x 14 3/4 x 2 inches (30,5 x 37,5 x 5,1 cm)
SW 18134

Video

Catalogue published on the occasion of Emil Lukas's solo presentation at The Art Show at the Park Avenue Armory, 27 February – 1 March 2020.

With a conversation between the artist and Harry Philbrick; a text by the artist; and an essay by Robert S. Mattison

Hardcover; 40 pages; 18 color plates; 10 1/4  x 9 1/4 inches.

Available in print on request. Please contact the gallery: info@speronewestwater.com.