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Greg Lukens
Dangerous Art

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Loyalty of Nature, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 44" x 32"

Most of my work is copied. While it is painstakingly rendered through oil and acrylic paintings, the subject matter is either directly or indirectly copied from photos, other paintings, or advertisements. Old Saturday Evening Post covers, Norman Rockwell’s, 1950s cigarette and car ads, even the Old Masters like Goya and Van der Weyden—and contemporary artist such as Howard Schwartz, Kerry James Marshall and Neo Rauch—find there way into my work. Sometimes it is easier to just look at what has already been done and draw from those resources for my ideas and compositions rather than sit pondering how I can express what I am thinking.

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All God’s Children Got Time, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 44" x 32"

I use my family and myself quite a bit to help model the characters in my paintings. There are some autobiographical hints but for the most part I am trying to reenact a scene I have come across. I tend to shy away from explaining or analyzing my work too much. Not that I do not see meaning or have goals in expressing some idea in the work, only that I am not so concerned that 'my idea' be what is defined in the work by the viewer.

Often, too much emphasis is placed on figuring out what a work of art means or is about. While engaging art is important, I think my first goal is to always make the painting a visual spectacle that pulls the viewer in solely by the colors and composition and 'iconic' nature of the subjects. If this is accomplished, then the meaning will follow suit.

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The Prophecy Oil and acrylic on canvas 44" x 32"

I rarely work from sketches or formulated ideas. I simply have an idea or some sort of situation that arises in my head and I try to formulate it onto the canvas. These situations are not always meant to be comfortable or conclusive, rather I strive for those awkward and nervous moments that I imagine everyone might encounter if they were in that situation.

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Potential, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 44" x 32"

Of course, my paintings are political. All art is political one way or another. The greatest challenge for myself is to not make propaganda art. Art that defines one way of looking at something or one idea that is easily interpreted is not always interesting art. While this kind of art might be agreeable it is also dangerous art. When art has become a marketing tool I doubt that it can any longer be a critic.

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