JAMES LUTZKO: Fields of Thought

By Dorota Kozinska

Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and for colour, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential.
– Wassily Kandinsky

Unlike figurative art, which has gone through a period of questioning as to its validity in contemporary visual expression, abstraction kept a steady, albeit fluctuating presence. Somewhat on the sidelines at the start of the 21st century, abstract art is making a spectacular resurgence, with a very different plastic message. As most contemporary art remains concerned with immediacy and expression, young abstract artists seem to delve into deeper cultural undercurrents, as well as profoundly personal reflection. As the world order changes, so does art, consciously but more often not, reflecting the global unrest.

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The world of art is in constant dialogue that spans centuries and epochs. Every artist rises on the shoulders of those before him, and drawing from the experience of others is a common thread. Having been introduced to the Spatial Concept movement and the work of its founder, Lucio Fontana, I embarked on a new series of paintings that carried the same pictorial message. The rigorous synthesis at the root of this style encompasses the entire spectrum of painting: colour, space, movement, time… This process gives birth to a unique visual landscape, at once abstract and expressive. While the Spatial movement itself was born of the post-war era and in many ways reflected its Zeitgeist, my creative exploration has more to do with plasticity and material/medium. The process is also extended into time, unlike Fontana’s dramatic cuts and punctures. I have been working on a craquelure technique that allows me to breathe life into the canvas in the form of small cracks and fissures that move across it in an almost organic manner. It’s a daily process, and purely intuitive. The moment when the painting is done arrives at its own bidding, the harmony makes itself present, and the composition is complete. The work is set, as it were, with an epoxy coating, adding yet another element to the surface. The varnish acts as a protective layer, cast over the hallowed space and the life pulsating in the crevices. The final result varies from painting to painting, and depends as much on the colour as it does on the texture that carries the narrative. In my monochromatic pieces, the choice of colour imbues the work with instant visual vocabulary, but the story hides in myriad tiny cracks that meander across the canvas. The colour undulates with the fissures as they mass together or disperses. In other works, colours create layers that appear through the cracks, adding a three-dimensional aspect to the composition. These abstracted fields of colour and texture carry a pictorial message that is transformed into an emotional landscape by the alchemy of the creative process.

James Lutzko