Attila Richard Lukacs in Sculpture Magazine

Monday, January 7, 2013

Daneva Dansby for Sculpture Magazine: Known for realist paintings of virile, eroticized figures during the ’80s and ’90s, Attila Richard Lukacs has since moved on to a psychological realm of submerged illusions and maze-like puzzles. Classical and mythological evocations are layered throughout his recent body of work: fountains, urns, and columns merge with impressions of the dead, Valhalla, and the guardian sphinx. The figurative has not been completely delegated to the trash, however; instead, it slips into the works as traces of male nudes, cartoon-like creatures, and opaque transparencies.

In 2011, Lukacs produced a large-scale sculptural installation consisting of an expansive plot of lattice, wood, organic materials, fluorescent lights, and oozing black tar. If Black and White Faggot (acquired by Art Gallery of Nova Scotia) feelsl ike the collected detritus of an alley-way, it is not by chance. Bitumen, Faggot's material of choice, was not only a favourite medium of 19th-century painters such as Delacroix and Gericault, it also forms the asphalt lining our streets.

Black and White Faggot highlights the role of sculpture within Lukacs' visual and narrative universe. In comparison, the three-dimensional works in his recent exhibition, "Infernal Beings," felt somewhat out of context. Felix, a sawhorse accessorized with a dangling disco-ball, broken wooden appendanges, a curving impediment of a tail, a comb of a rake, and a tree branch, was relegated to the corner of the gallery where it playedt he role of suppressed id rather than taking its true place as centerpiece. Many of Lukacs' sculptures recycle past works into new forms and compositions. Felix had to undergo an additional and unforeseen adjustment, a sort of "hair-trimming," to find its way out of the studio and into the gallery. And while Lukacs has suggested that this journey into abstraction is a means to discover "where the figure will again come to sit within the canvas," Felix emerged as the true figure within the "Infernal Beings" narrative, a return to form, a building block around which a larger dialogue orbits.

Two other sculptures -- one an untitled, mixed-media piece made of pink building blocks and the other an assemblage of wooden slabs drizzled with what looks like bitumen (titled Marcel Duchamp and Carl Andre Go Out One Night and Get Really Drunk) -- speak to Lukacs' reworking of art historical and contemporary materials. His oeuvre was once likened to the works of Goya and Rembrandt for dramatic subject matter and method, and he may still be seen as injecting art history into the present day. What emerges is a type of "readymade romantic" wherein creative and intellectual curiosity is pushed into an entirely new vision.

As seen in the July/August 2013 issue of Sculpture Magazine.