Merike Lugus pic

About five years ago I made an about-face in my approach to painting. I turned from oils and realism to acrylics and abstraction. The beginning of the 21st century is marked by flux — a change in energy — as observed in climate change, massive migrations, politics… as well as advances in quantum physics, quantum biology and cosmology. I wanted to be a part of this new kind of energy, to let go of my old approach and explore new territory and new materials. 

The focus in my work is to explore and expand the way acrylics and mediums of today lend themselves to manipulation, and when pushed, reveal an unpredicted potential. They are great for exploring translucency and vibrancy, but increasingly I am finding other mediums from our environment that can be incorporated into the canvas, especially scraps and residue from previous work. I am interested in establishing my own vocabulary of textures and effects, ranging from tile-like or glassy surfaces, to soft velvety, to muscular, stone-rough ones.  My explorations have led me to think of paint as a skin that can be manipulated and layered and carved into, sometimes leading to almost jewel-like effects. There are no rules, except for the requirements of balance and a consistency of quality.

Influence, of course, can never be avoided and as my paintings take shape, I find shades of old heroes… a bit  of Paul Klee, a bit of Matisse, Hundertwasser and so on. A surprising influence that sometimes comes through is that of mythology and the old fairy tales I was so fond of as a child— my fascination with powerful figures. Among today’s artists, Jack Whitten (who died early this year, 2018) stands out for me: he has been has been called a “relentless experimenter with materials”, driven by invention and discovery. There is an internal energy in manipulating mediums, which keeps the artist alert and engaged.

I continue to be inspired by quantum mechanics. As someone put it, “We live in an odd world formed by a fabric of subatomic particles, where matter does not take form until it is observed and time runs backwards as well as forwards.” If scientists are baffled by the fundamental nature of reality, an artist today might feel free to abandon old constraints of interpretation and look into modes of expression not yet imagined. We painters tend to have our personal white whales that we pursue — something elusive, gorgeous and always one painting away. Artists are dreamers, the paths are infinite. 

Contact me at merike@eagle.ca