Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer Solstice Benefit 2010 Featured Artist: Alex Lukas

It would be quite an understatement to say that there is a lot of discussion about the place of printmaking in contemporary fine art practice. Philadelphia artist and Space 1026 member Alex Lukas is a fine example of the driving force behind Philagrafika 2010.

Some artists use print because they need to create hundreds of multiples. Others use print because of it's traditional role in art history. Still others use it because of it's allusions to media culture and history. There are plenty of reasons to use print in contemporary practice, but many, Alex Lukas included, use print because they just can't achieve their desired results through any other process. "I think there is a mis-conception that somehow incorporating printmaking into the process is a time-saver. It really isn’t... I need to use these methods to make the images I want."

Alex Lukas, Untitled

Lukas is referring here to the series of almost exclusively untitled images he calls the "disaster drawings". The drawings themselves are absolute wonders - mixed media compositions of scenes of urban decay, flooded cities, and deserted fields of rubble. They are masterfully crafted using watercolor, gouache, spraypaint and silkscreen that culminate in a very intriguing back-and-forth between illustration and photorealism that really makes the scenes come to life.

Alex Lukas, Untitled. Available at Summer Solstice 2010!

Lukas has donated one of these compositions, a flooded city scene, for Summer Solstice 2010. These drawings rely on Lukas's screenprinting chops. He takes scenes of cities usually torn straight from books, and layers them with various media. The buildings are painstakingly masked out, and then he begins a very scientific process: using a split fountain technique, testing and retesting colors, working with different size screen mesh and several other variables until the waters that rise to the tops of skyscrapers looks just right. For such morbid images, they are absurdly beautiful.

In addition to these drawings, Alex Lukas makes humorous posters inspired by comic book art, publishes zines through his company Cantab Publishing, and is the Philadelphia correspondent for San Francisco's excellent multidisciplinary art and culture website Check out Alex at and don't forget to RSVP for Summer Solstice 2010!

-Dan Haddigan

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