Emil Lukas doesn’t actually paint, and half the time he has larvae do it for him. The Pennsylvanian artist’s recent exhibition at Sperone Westwater Gallery was comprised of two bodies of work: one of paintings made entirely with fine thread, and the other artworks with many layers of larvae trails recorded in ink. His strategies to create these works are particular, and in the case of the larvae pretty unconventional. Lukas’ creativity is reactive and set in the present. With his thread paintings, he mounts one thread across the canvas, considers its placement and compositional purpose, and then continues the same process with the next. In a macro and micro sense the work is contemplative, as each thread is placed with purpose, but also that the final composition should turn out having the same slow and purposeful glow as the act itself.
In the summer, Lukas keeps fly larvae eggs in a converted Tractor Factory that he uses to create his ink-path pieces. He covers the larvae in ink, and uses light and shadow to manipulate their route. After, he applies a translucent wash over the trails, and repeats. The level of control that Lukas can maintain is both impressive and essential, as the strategy seems to form a good balance between chance and design that produces consistent but unexpected work. The paths end up looking like tree roots or coral. Nature is ever-present in the layers of Lukas’ paintings. (Via Artnet)