"The End of Utopia" - Emil Lukas, 2017

"The End of Utopia" - Emil Lukas, 2017

video Michele Alberto Sereni, courtesy Studio la Città - Verona

Jacob Hashimoto and Emil Lukas, two internationally recognized American artists, have been invited by Studio la Città Gallery to stage a site-specific show in Palazzo Flangini reflecting on “The End of Utopia”. As we move deeper into the Anthropocene, the cost of our ascendancy is becoming clear. Decades of environmental exploitation have left us perilously balanced and wavering on every side: political, social, economic, natural, technological, and ecological. As many observers of the Anthropocene have noted with apt unease, humanity itself has increasingly become the perpetrator, rather than victim, of planetary chaos.

Emil Lukas’s work occupies the first-floor of the space. Lukas has created three separate, but interwoven, groups of work: “Lens,” “Puddles,” and “Threads.” At one end of the vast gallery, 650 aluminum pipes are assembled into a giant lens of sorts. Through its side-by-side tubes, the concave, almost iridescent sculpture affords a vista that moves with the viewer according to his or her position. From the right angle, the lens focuses and isolates the viewer, distilling the experience of the artwork to a single, fundamental perspective—the watchman’s post in the Panopticon. While Lens speaks to the seductive nature of observation and surveillance, the Puddle paintings are vast microcosmic landscapes that, conversely, conjure an unobserved, almost geologic progression of time. More like sculpture than painting in many ways, these works feature surfaces pulled into funnel-like concavities by clusters of taut thread. Lukas then allows masses of paint to collect in these depressions, letting the pigments separate, reticulate, and form stratifications. As the paintings dry, the pigments leach through each canvas, staining and revealing the surfaces’ buried histories.

Lukas’s Thread paintings are delicate overlapping skeins of colorful thread, anchored to the sides of idiosyncratic wood stretchers that frame uneven, pockmarked white-plaster backing. These threads cross each other most densely around the stretchers’ perimeters, leaving the centers of the constructions relatively spare. The effect of this patterned density creates a powerful optical illusion of volume from a distance. As the viewer approaches each work more closely, its skein of threads becomes apparent, and a delicate atmosphere, shifting over an alien landscape, is revealed.
— studiolacittà verona