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Thread paintings, new sculptural work highlight latest Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts exhibition
Large Lens, 2015. Cardboard, glue, and wood, 120 x 130 x 30 inches. Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Sperone Westwater, New York.

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts presents Emil Lukas, an exhibition of the internationally-recognized process artist's thread paintings, as well as a brand-new sculptural work on public view for the first time.

Emil Lukas, on view January 14 through April 10, is the second exhibition in PAFA's recently re-launched Morris Gallery Program. The program aims to highlight a diverse array of emerging and mid-career artists creating new work, often site-specific, within PAFA's Morris Gallery.

For his exhibition, Lukas will display two facets of his work on visual perception: a selection of his signature thread paintings, and a sculpture that represents an exciting new direction for his work.

"Emil Lukas explores the moment that is suspended between seeing and understanding what is being seen," says Jodi Throckmorton, PAFA's Curator of Contemporary Art. "It's exciting to bring his meditative yet energizing work to PAFA and the Morris Gallery Program."

Lukas creates radiant fields of atmospheric color by crisscrossing intricate layers of polyester thread over a shallow wooden tray. He builds the voids at the center of these pieces through the improvisational selection of compatible and contrasting colors.

It is only upon close examination that the viewer comprehends that Lukas is creating these optical wonders with thread. Similarly, Lukas has created Large Lens: an interactive, human-sized sculpture that disorients and reveals the way the eye comprehends three-dimensional form.

"The work in the show is a balance between opportunity and restraint," Lukas explains. "To create opportunity you have to have rules, you have to have restraints: physical forces, optical forces, conceptual forces."

In particular, the creation of Large Lens has proven itself a revelatory experience for Lukas.

"For the viewer, there's an optical event when you see it," he says. "Working on it alone, to me it was something you look through. But when people came to my studio and were looking at it, it changed the work; it became more of a reflection rather than being a clear lens."

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1964, Lukas has widely shown his work nationally and internationally including solo exhibitions at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Weatherspoon Museum, The Mattress Factory, and the Hunterdon Museum.

Lukas' work is in collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and others.

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