JAMES LUTZKO

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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ARTIST’S STATEMENT

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

ART CRITIQUE

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.

For some, like Calgary based painter James Lutzko, art becomes a vehicle for not only self-expression, but also a means of finding one’s place in the new reality, both physical and emotional. Abstraction holds within it endless possibilities, that can be both challenging and inspiring. Lutzko’s canvases aim at breaking the barrier of the medium, and imagination, seeking his muse deep inside his psyche.

If to be an abstract painter is to have the soul of a poet, in the words of the great Kandinsky, James Lutzko fits the bill. His works, unlike those of such giants of abstract painting as Mondrian or Pollock, do not demand instant recognition, not even an instant reaction; what they ask for is quiet reflection, a return to an inner sanctum of the heart… Like the vast fields of subdued tonality in Canadian painter Romany Eveleigh’s canvases, or fragments of colour planes excised into small format by Françoise Sullivan, Lutzko’s works are portals into another realm. His palette is varied, undulating, the brushstroke dictating the eye’s journey across the canvas, leading it from darkness to light and back. In the process the viewer discovers layers upon translucent layers, almost like fleeting thoughts, leaving behind delicate traces.

Landscape serves as muse in Lutzko’s creative process, but it is the landscape of the imaginary, transformed through meditation into a pictorial expression of a very personal kind. Self-taught, the artist approaches his work with pure instinct: intuition, rather than training, guiding his hand. The symphony of tones that imbues his work speaks of an innate talent and an unspoiled, unencumbered love of painting.

Colour provides the titles in his canvases; Blue, Yellow, Red marking a path of pictorial discovery shared by the artist and the viewer as each painting encapsulates a different emotion, and like Rothko’s vibrating colour planes, provokes myriad sensations. “The longer you look at an object, the more abstract it becomes, and, ironically, the more real,” observed English painter Lucian Freud. The more one looks at Lutzko’s abstract fields of colour, the more images they conjure. There are distant landscapes beneath the mist of paint, an echo of a presence hidden in the brushstrokes. Yellow is like diving into a warm, murky lake, where light filters through the water, shimmering, bubbling back to the surface. There is anguish in pieces titled Black, as if something was trying to free itself from the abyss, its light, like breath, slowly emerging in the centre of the canvas. Purple resembles parched earth, a lunar landscape, or a fragment of an ancient, weathered mural, with golden cracks like a nocturnal spider’s web glowing in the dark, holding the composition in place.

With artists like James Lutzko at the helm, abstract art is heading into unchartered and fascinating waters.

James has just joined KontemporaryArt an art gallery and services for fine arts company owned and directed by Marco Rosada, an widely renowned Italian art dealer and adviser, that recently moved its headquarters to Calgary.

Dorota Kozinska is a Montreal-based international writer and art critic.

EXHIBITIONS

EXPOSITIONS:

Gerry Thomas Gallery April 13, 2013 “Gerry Thomas Wine Tasting Social”  featured artist James Lutzko’s “Elements”

Foothills Academy, Calgary July 2012. Artwork commissioned by Centron Builders

Giusti Group of Companies, Calgary March 2009. “Giusti Coat of Arms”acrylic.

Gunnar Office Furnishings, Calgary. 20’x 30’acrylic “Sky Mural” commissioned by Clarke Builders

Udderly Art – Cows for Calgary “Cowardly Lion”oil on fiberglass. Commissioned by “Eastport Lion’s Club”summer 2000

Kensington Fine Art Gallery, Calgary. “Urban Landscapes”June 12 – 22, 1999. Exhibited 1999 to 2008

“Year of the Cowboy”, acrylic on linen. Commissioned by Glenbow Museum for Calgary International Airport 1997 – 2000.

“Artists In Wading” Exhibition Project Oasis 1996 Calgary. For “Calgary Parks & Recreation”

Plein Aire Painting 1992 to 1995 Calgary

Plein Aire Painting 1989 to 1991 Stanley Park, Vancouver, Canada

Plein Aire Painting 1983 to 1988 Stephen Avenue Mall, Calgary

Art Gallery of Calgary 1978-1981 – 8 Avenue S.W. Calgary, AB. T2P 1B4

PUBLICATIONS:

Udderly Art “Colorful Cows For Calgary” by Tom Keyser. Photography by Clayton B Kaplar