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LUKE GRay november 15 – december 11, 2010 deep skin & strokeworld paintings 1


front Cover and right: strokeworld 0529, 2010 Varnished acrylic on canvas 46�



luke gray november 15 – December 11, 2010 deep skin & strokeworld paintings

GalleRy DirectoRs David Eichholtz & Richard Barger

David Richard Contemporary 130 Lincoln Avenue, Suite D, Santa Fe, NM 87501 | p (505) 983-9555 | f (505) 983-1284 |


Excerpts from a Studio Conversation with Artist Luke Gray, Author Daniel Pinchbeck, and Gary Snyder of Gary Snyder Project Space in NYC

Daniel Pinchbeck is the Editorial Director of Reality Sandwich (www.reality and the author of Breaking Open The Head: A Psychedelic Journey Into The Heart Of Contemporary Shamanism and 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl.

L.G. (speaking of a personal library of

Haring in the subway in the early 80’s, just

books on psychedelia, shamanism, and par-

do his thing in 15, 20 seconds, and just walk

adigm shifts…) I did all this reading, back

away. And that was the work. There was

in the 80’s and early 90’s, when I was in my

something about the immediacy of that and

twenties and early thirties. You try to situate

the power of not looking analytically at what

yourself in your culture, and you try to figure

you’ve done, and trying to figure out how

out where you’re located, where your spirit

to make it better. I was really just trying to

is located, where your thoughts are located,

cultivate a process inside myself where all

and it’s a long process, and eventually your

these things would work themselves out in-

work fuses with your thoughts, in the sense

ternally before the work was done.

that you don’t really need to think anymore, beyond a certain point. And I think that’s

G.S. Daniel, Luke’s process of painting is

the whole intent, of the project, to get to

an extremely spontaneous one, very much

that point where your work fuses with your

about being in the moment, and I always,

thoughts. Sometimes I feel dumb, because

somewhat naively I see now, thought it was

I don’t read that much anymore toward my

about being in the moment, almost like a

work, but I don’t feel like I have to, until I

jazz musician, but I’ve come to see that a lit-

have a new crisis, and my work has to be re-

tle differently now. I used to see it as a world

defined. It’s really just a question of getting

that was out there, like a weather system, or

to that point where the work comes from, in

a quantum field, but I now see it as a world

all the tumultuousness of my daily life. I’ve

that he’s created, that is very diverse and

always believed in speed of execution as a

very complex and very meaningful, a world

way of short circuiting a certain analytical

that I don‘t quite know yet. What I do know

process. I think it started with seeing Keith

is that part of the power of the work is in its

rapidity, and in its attempt to almost vibrate

are a lot of things that are just on the cusp

on the same level as other things.

of being, but they’re not solidified.


painting is almost like a frame in a neverD.P. How quickly do you do these?

ending film, which is all about transformation and change, which is what I feel our

L.G. These paintings are done in…about 20

world is about. So it’s about trying to cap-


ture that…that fleeting moment and make it solid for a second, and then to make it an

D.P. Wow! (laughter)

object of contemplation.

Another one of

the foundational thoughts is the idea of the L.G. When they’re done they’re done. I just

brushstroke as a kind of pixel, or building

step away and never touch them again. I

block, of all painting. And then, trying to

think basically the thing is resolved inside

re-imagine a world where that brushstroke

before it’s put out there, and obviously

is set free to do what it wishes to do. Not in

I can’t work that way all the time, I have

the service of describing something, neces-

months when I’m able to access that and I

sarily, but just being unleashed to become

have months, or even years, when I’m not

almost like an actor on its own stage…fly-

able to access it. For me paintings happen

ing through the space, stopping,

in little moments. I’m not about to punch

ing structures, dismantling structures, this

the clock in my own studio…

whole notion was very important to me.


I wanted this world I was imagining to be G.S. Luke paints in series…and my observa-

a very illusionist one also, not the two-di-

tion is that there’s always been this build-up

mensional space of Greenberg’s New York

of energy, which releases itself in a series

School. I still believe that illusionism is The

of paintings, then Luke may not paint for

Holy Grail of painting, and always will be.

a long time.

He doesn’t paint again until

something builds up again and it releases,


and he’s very very tough on himself about

What kind of a dialogue did you have with

Luke, we’re both sons of painters.

that. He’s not one of those guys who comes

your Dad about painting?

into the studio every day and has to paint. It’s much more of an intuitive, mysterious

L.G. We actually didn’t talk so much about

process, and sometimes a deeply disturbing

painting in general, although we were very

process…you’ve gone through long periods

supportive of each other. I think an artist of

where you haven’t been able to paint.

our generation has to me more self-aware. An artist of my Dad’s generation was able

L.G. Basically Daniel, what I’m trying to do

to just dissolve themselves into their work,

in these paintings is create extremely asso-

but we have to straddle both sides of the

ciative spaces that every viewer will bring

line between the conscious and the uncon-

their own history to, they’re own vision to,

scious because we’re post-modern. It’s a

it’s all about a world in flux, a world that is

completely different relationship to paint-

mutating and isn’t static in any way. There

ing. What was required of my generation


was to be both inside and outside of the

remember that really opened my eyes, and

painting at the same time.

I was always trying to develop a language that had the anonymity that tribal art has.


D.P. A job I had in my late twenties was

It’s not the anonymity of a technological so-

writing for art magazines, for example, the

ciety, which is a very cold and isolative one,

Art Newspaper of London, and then I got

it’s the opposite of that…it’s the anonym-

into, you know, psychedelic shamanism, I

ity of an artist in a group of people where

went to the Burning Man Festival, and I got

individuality is not celebrated to a certain

less interested in the traditional containers

extent, and painting is a vehicle for ritual, so

of the art world, and everything that’s in-

there are certain types of marks and certain

volved and associated with them, and what

ways of producing work that can be individ-

I loved about Burning Man is that the art

ually interpreted by each artist, but it’s pret-

that’s made there is kind of anonymous,

ty much all subsumed in a common vision,

you can look it up, but it’s mostly sculptural,

and one that‘s very familiar to the tribe. In

and it’s mostly made to solicit the maxi-

my work, by reducing the painting stroke to

mum amount of enjoyment and community

this kind of unit, this dna-like building block,


it becomes a neutral, anonymous structure, it’s not my brushstroke, not my signature,

L.G. …and be a spark for ritual…

it’s the brushstroke.

D.P. Exactly, exactly, the construct of the

D.P. My question is this: could the creative

art world is so much more involved with

impulse that goes into making beautiful

making this object that’s going to have

works such as these, be shaped into a tool

an archival life…one of the most liberating

that helps bring about a different kind of en-

things about Burning Man is that a lot of the

gagement? How can that be harnessed at a

stuff gets burned at the end of the festival…

time of species-level crisis to bring about a

it’s like a release of one’s attachments…to

transformation in practice and habits?

this idea that it’s going to be something permanent…

G.S. One could argue that being moved by a work of art, the feeling of humanity, the

L.G. Like a Tibetan sand painting…

touching of something real, is working in it’s own way toward that goal.

D.P. Exactly, it’s like a ceremony that our culture has constituted, like a Lakota sun

L.G. Daniel, in some of the discussions on


your website and in your writing you’re talking about alchemy, and the transformation

The fact that you mention anonym-

of matter. This is important, and I’d like to

ity is very important to me because I think

talk about it. When I’m doing paintings, I

really from the very beginning my great-

want the work to be about paint, and the

est influences were always tribal, whether

essential language of painting - the brush-


it was Mayan, Egyptian, or Australian ab-

stroke. When I’m doing drawings, I want it

original painting, which first came to New

to be about the essential language of draw-

York in the early 80’s at The Asia Society, I

ing, which is the line. And there’s always

been this attempt to make the narrative in

just paint. You couldn’t just paint and lose

my work about genesis, which is transfor-

yourself in the painting the way Pollock or

mation of matter, so in the paintings you

DeKooning did. You had first to go through

have these kind of building blocks, or brush-

a certain amount of deconstruction of the

strokes, which are in the process of build-

tradition that you were involved in, and take

ing something. The drawings are all about

responsibility for your choice, and some-

the line, which is in the process of creating

how work another level of awareness into it


It’s animist, you know, which

all. This often took a purely intellectual turn

again betrays my deep relation to the tribal,

at that time, but the deconstruction taking

to tribal art. Speaking of animism, Jose Ar-

place was absolutely necessary.

guelles, in his book The Transformative Vi-

had been deconstructed to the line, paint-


sion, showed a very intuitive understanding

ing had been deconstructed to the brush-

of painting. He spoke about the watercol-

stroke, and I thought, let’s now take those

ors of Turner (JMW) in the same terms I’ve

elements and build a whole new world out

always thought of them. Especially at the

of them. And I think that’s very much what

end of Turner’s life, he did paintings on pa-

happens Daniel, when you have a shamanic

per where it appeared that the watercolors

experience of the type you‘ve written about,

had become the very elements that he was

you do go through a kind of deconstructive

describing in his paintings. The watercolor

experience, where the reality that existed

became the clouds, became the ocean, so

for you before is no longer, and it‘s then up

there’s this very animist thing also happen-

to you to piece it back together again. I re-

ing there, a one-to-one correspondence be-

ally felt, by the late eighties, that analysis

tween paint and phenomena. This relates

and deconstruction had just sapped the art

to what I’m talking about because it‘s con-

of any life force whatsoever. I felt the only

nected to a post-modern way of thinking

way I could take up the brush with meaning

and working. While you’re creating, while

would be to take the work that had been

you’re in the moment of creation, you have

done and use it to build a new world. That’s

to have this kind of hyper level of awareness

what postmodernism meant to me. It was

of the significance of the tools that you’re

a period of severe analytical thinking where

using. This is what focused my efforts on

things were stripped of their meaning and

trying to question, at the beginning, what

historical context.

the building blocks of the language were, be it painting or drawing, and using that as

D.P. What comes next?

a kind of animistic tool that took on it’s own life, almost as if it were happening by itself,

L.G. Well that’s exactly it. For a lot of peo-

building itself, as opposed to being con-

ple it was the end of something. For my

trolled by an external force. There is also an

dad’s generation it was the death of some-

aspect to post-modernism where it is break-

thing, like an ice pick in the heart. For my

ing through the illusion of the utopian dream

generation it was an opportunity to remake

of modernism, accepting its failure. Never


again dissolving oneself in a kind of absolute vision which would not allow any type of self-criticism. Clearly I felt that I couldn’t


strokeworld 0907, 2010 42” x 40” Varnished acrylic on canvas


strokeworld 0529, 2010 46” x 46” Varnished acrylic on canvas


strokeworld 0321, 2010 40” x 40” Varnished acrylic on canvas


strokeworld 0516, 2010 46” x 46” Varnished acrylic on canvas


strokeworld 0705, 2010 36” x 36” Varnished acrylic on canvas


strokeworld 0701, 2010 38” x 36” Varnished acrylic on canvas


strokeworld 0415, 2010 42” x 42” Varnished acrylic on canvas


strokeworld 0718, 2010 40” x 38” Varnished acrylic on canvas


strokeworld 0708, 2010 38” x 36” Varnished acrylic on canvas


strokeworld 0712, 2010 40” x 38” Varnished acrylic on canvas


deep skin 0825, 2009 56” x 48” Varnished acrylic on canvas


deep skin 0815, 2009 56” x 48” Varnished acrylic on canvas


deep skin 0213, 2009 52” x 44” Varnished acrylic on canvas


deep skin 0123, 2009 50” x 42” Varnished acrylic on canvas


Luke Gray Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY Artist’s Birthdate: 1961 Education: B.A. in Fine Arts and Literature, University of Pennsylvania, 1982, Philadelphia, Pa. 20

Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, 1979, Skowhegan, Me. Rhode Island School of Design, Summer Session 1978, Providence, R.I. Selected Solo Exhibitions: “Luke Gray: Strokeworld and Deep Skin Paintings”, David Richard Contemporary, Santa Fe, N.M., 2010 “Deep Skins”, Gary Snyder Project Space, NYC, NY, 2009 “Luke Gray: SyncMasters and GestureGlyphs“, Gary Snyder Fine Art, NYC, NY, 2002 Hunter Gallery at The William H. Drury and Richard Grosvenor Center for the Arts, Newport, R.I., 2001 Addison-Ripley Fine Art, Washington D.C., 2000 David Klein Gallery, Birmingham, Mi., 1999 Snyder Fine Art, NYC, 1998 Addison-Ripley Fine Art, Washington D.C., 1997 Snyder Fine Art, NYC, 1996 Galerie Ludwig, Krefeld, Germany, 1996 Thomas Erben Gallery, NYC, 1996 Selected Group Exhibitions: “?Abstraction”, Gary Snyder Project Space, NYC, NY, 2008 “Contemporary New York” (curated by Nabil Nahas), J. Johnson Gallery,

Jacksonville Beach, Fla., 2004

“OnLine”, Feigen Contemporary, NYC, NY, 2003 “500 Works on Paper“, Gary Snyder Fine Art, NYC, NY, 2002 “Drawings and Photographs”, Matthew Marks Gallery, NYC, NY, 2000 “Dorke Poelz and Luke Gray: Ort-Place”, Carmen Oberst Kunstraum, Hamburg, Germany, 2000 “Photographic Postcards”, Museum für Kommunikation, Hamburg, Germany, 2000 “Der Fliegende Robert”, collaboration with Dorke Poelz, Künstlerhaus Moorfleet, Hamburg, Germany, 1998 “Three: Alex de Fluvia, Luke Gray, Pablo Rey”, Holland Tunnel Art Projects,

Brooklyn, NY, 1998

“A New Naturalism”, Snyder Fine Art, NYC, 1997 “In the Garden Room: Just the Way You Like It”, Archibald Arts, NYC, 1997 “Unresolved: Drawings and Paintings According to... Chakaia Booker, Keith Duncan,

Luke Gray”, Archibald Arts, NYC, 1997

“Pentiment Academy Guest Professors 1997”, Hamburg Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany, 1997 “Affinities”, Snyder Fine Art, NYC, 1996 “Gallery Artists”, Thomas Erben Gallery, NYC, 1996 “Vibology”, White Columns, NYC, 1992

“Premio Internazionale Fiar” (NYC entry curated by Dan Cameron), Museum of Science

and Technology, Milan, Italy. Traveled to Rome, Paris, London, Los Angeles,

New York, 1991-1993. “In the Black”, PNYK Gallery, Kent, Ct., 1990 “Guillaume Bijl, Luke Gray, Robert Hamon, Karen Kilimnik”, Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, NYC, 1989 Commissions: 350 West 51st. St., NYC, NY commissioned by Rossrock LLC in collaboration with

Philip Babb Architect to paint mural “Traveler” in building’s lobby. Project

completed July, 2002

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, N.J., commissioned to paint 30 ft. long

mural entitled Universal Health” for new corporate headquarters. Project completed July, 2001.

1500 Broadway at Times Square, NYC, NY commissioned by Intertech to paint ceiling

mural, “TransMission 1998” in building’s lobby. Project completed February 1998.

Artist’s Books: “NeoGenesis”, 1995, 662 Driggs Editions, Brooklyn, NY “Alien Space Invaders’ Book of Days”, 1994, Black Dog Editions, NYC “Recent Observations”, 1993, Black Dog Editions, NYC “Invisible Culture”, 1993, Black Dog Editions, NYC “Musee Picasso”, 1992, Black Dog Editions, NYC All books distributed by Printed Matter at DIA, NY Bibliography: Chapman, Frances (Artburger), Waterfront Week, 1996-97, various. Diehl, Carol, Art In America, November 1998, “Luke Gray at Snyder Fine Art”, review. Janis, Stefan, The Litchfield County Times, April 16 1993, “Warren-Born Artist’s Work

at Kent Gallery”.

Johnson, Ken, The New York Times, May 22 1998, review of Snyder show. Johnson, Ken, The New York Times, June 13, 2003, review of “Online” at Feigen Contemporary. Kino, Carol, Time Out, August 1997, “Unresolved”, review of show at Archibald Arts. Kino, Carol, Art News, April 1997, “Luke Gray at Snyder”, review. Kenny, Kay, Cover, July 1997, “Organizing Non-Hierarchal Space: Color is Key in

Luke Gray’s Transitional Gestures”.

Maine, Stephen, The New York Sun, “A Delicious Paradox”, June 2008, review of

“?Abstraction” at Gary Snyder Project Space .

Protzman, Ferdinand, The Washington Post, January 2000, “Luke Gray at Addison-Ripley”, review. Smith, Roberta, The New York Times, August 2 1996, “Across the Generations, Side by Side”, review of “Affinities” show at Snyder Fine Art. Smith, Roberta, The New York Times, January 8th, 2002, “Frank Stella Pops Up All Over”

mention of exhibition at Gary Snyder Fine Art in relation to concept of “complexity”.

Vogel, Carol, The New York Times, March 6 1998, “The Spirit of the Square”, Inside Art

Column about “TransMission 1998”, Times Square mural commission.

Von Buchholtz, Annegret, Westdeutsche Zeitung, September 12 1996, “Brushstrokes and

the Self-Organization of Chaos”, review of Galerie Ludwig show.


ISBN 978-0-9827872-5-0 Price $15.00 Š 2010 David richard contemporary, llc


130 Lincoln Avenue, Suite D, Santa Fe, NM 87501 | p (505) 983-9555 | f (505) 983-1284 |

Luke Gray "Deep Skin & Strokeworld Paintings"  

Deep Skin & Strokeworld Paintings a solo exhibition of new and recent paintings by Luke Gray

Luke Gray "Deep Skin & Strokeworld Paintings"  

Deep Skin & Strokeworld Paintings a solo exhibition of new and recent paintings by Luke Gray