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Robert Lucander - Picturing the Moment

Category: Portrait 21. January 2009

Robert Lucander moved from Finland to Berlin one year before the Wall fell. The prospect of reunification peaked interest in the other side. Differences between east and west became clear. The painter realized, to his own surprise and fascination, that the discourse over various cultural shadings was not simply metaphorical rhetoric, but rather a very real detail that needed to be taken seriously: Lucander ordered industrially produced, color-standardized acrylic lacquer that had been produced in the east. In comparison to the same western version of the product, it exhibited an amazingly different quality of color.

The experience of limiting the artistic material to cultural characteristics strengthened Lucander's interest in a force of expression which does not only result from the creative act of the artist, but which lies within the given material already. He begins by investigating the material as a medium with temporal,

geographical, and cultural forces of expression, and looks for possibilities to emphasize what information already lies within it. Thus, he uses industrially produced paints and strictly adheres to the selection of colors from the annually newly offered color pattern selections. In the artistic handling of the colors, he limits himself to the current instructions regarding the acrylic lacquer doses. The color materials thereby subject his work to the taste, geographical environment, and time of their development, and the work of the artist begins to demonstrate its predetermined qualities through contrasting arrangements.

One of these contrasting media is the substrate itself. Robert Lucander paints on industrially manufactured plywood boards, which he gets cut according to the grain and then glued. The grain - which has a particular quality similar to the human fingerprint and which the artist uses as a compositional element - works in the paintings as a contrasting material to the mass-produced acrylic, whose material characteristics as decorative color with even covering strength and flowing brush lines can be superficially perceived as de-individualizing and generic.

The artist outlines places where the grain is left visible with pencil. He uses these defaults in the wood as areas in which he can explore spatial as well as individually personal depths in his primarily humanly representative work. The face and body characteristics of the human figures that emerge from the depth of character of the plywood substrate stand in contrast to the glossy pages of fashion magazines from which the painter faithfully depicts the details of the faces and bodies. These models are torn away from their glamorous contexts in the work of the painter and placed into an everyday, mundane framework.

According to Lucander, he does not try to insert his own meaning, opinion, or views into his work, rather, he tries to emphasize, through his artistic practice, what is apparent as a witness. That which we read into or note about his work is left up to us as viewers. His paintings are not memorials of the life of an artistic genius inverted outwards, but rather snapshots of a sort, capturing a certain moment in time. (wh/jn)



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