Maple Ridge artist Roger Luko sits among his sculptures. (Contributed)

Indepth exhibition features Maple Ridge artist Roger Luko

This is the first indepth presentation of Luko’s work in 14 years

Maple Ridge artist Roger Luko will be presenting a solo exhibition of his recent work – the first in-depth show since 2004.

Called Line, Paint, Clay, the show will include work from across three mediums-drawings, sculpture and painting, and will only include the artist’s most recent work over the period of one year.

There will be 20 small, mainly female figures on display as well as a body of new paintings based on his recent foray into landscapes.

“Everything is done from life. I never use photographs,” explained Luko, adding that when he was approached about the show he though it would be a great excuse to engage himself in painting.

He took a wagon and an umbrella to keep the sun off both himself and the paintings, out into his backyard.

“I began working strictly from nature,” he said.

During this time he realized his love of landscape painting. He spent hours on his work.

“The painting my take two hours, it may take five hours, it may take 15 to 18 hours, whatever. I will work for eight hours straight out there,” said Luko.

“When you start engaging yourself in an art process you kind of become a little bit oblivious to everything,” chuckled the 73-year-old artist.

Once, painting the Fraser River, it was so windy that his umbrella kept turning inside out every five minutes. But he kept at it for eight hours with the umbrella in one hand and the paint brush in the other.

Luko sees plant life as another form of portraiture.

“What happens with my landscapes, all these little plants are gasping for acknowledgement and they have their specific look to them. So they don’t just become these blobs of colour, they have their specific shape and they carve out a specific space for themselves and they are all competing,” he said.

Luko says, he finds it easier to finish a painting and move on. With sculpture, his first artistic love, he finds the process more ongoing.

“A sculpture you might feel like you’ve gotten somewhere with it working from life, then the process becomes either firing and finishing or casting the piece. If it’s a bronze it’s an enormous job. The actually modelling of the sculpture is, you might call it, the easy part,” he said.

The sculptures in the show range from 38 centimetres to 46 centimetres tall and can take up to two weeks each to create. Each sculpture usually requires four sessions with a live model of 2 and a half hours each. Then the sculpture has to be cleaned up before the casting process can begin. With a rubber mould can take three solid eight hour days. Putting the casting substance in the mould takes another day. Then the seams of the sculpture are sanded and scraped which takes two to three days. Finally Luko makes a stone base for the sculpture and finishes it to make it impervious to touching or erosion.

“Some of my most blissful times are when I am actually sculpting,” he said.

Luko’s artistic career spans decades. After graduating from U.B.C. he began studying to become an artist in Europe. In 1965 he studied at the Idun Loven Art School in Stockholm Sweden, and then in 1966 at the Accademia di belle Arti in Rome, Italy, where he spent a year and a half before attending the London Art School and Sir John Cass College in London, England. He has also studied at Capilano University and at the Malaspina Printmakers in Vancouver.

Luko has included his family in the exhibition as well. He has both painted and sculpted clothed portraits of his three daughters when they were pregnant. Five sculpted pregnancies will be part of the exhibition along with two paintings of his pregnant daughter in Ottawa, one of her out by a swimming pool and one by a piano. Three paintings of his wife will be on display including one life-sized painting.

Luko prefers to work with oils.

“I like the limitations, I guess. Acrylics dry immediately for you but I’m not happy with the look of the colours. I can achieve natural looking colours with oil paints,” explained the artist saying that he works with the thicknesses of the material.

“This business of working with solid oil paint colour, it allows you to kind of explore a different aesthetic that I didn’t necessarily know I had floating around in my head,” he said.

The show will also feature life drawings Luko created from live undraped sessions held at Yennadon elementary.

He is currently represented by the Rendez-Vous Gallery in Vancouver.

Special programming will be offered in conjunction with the exhibition.

Luko will be offering a free guided tour of the exhibition from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 20.

Art instructor Lisa Lake will be offering a figurative drawing course within the gallery from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Jan. 23, 30 and Feb. 6. For more information on the class contact Barbara Duncan at barbarad@mract.org or to register call 604-476-2787.

Luko along with Sharon Axford are inviting artists to the ongoing life drawing drop-in sessions at Yennadon elementary. The sessions do not include instruction but allow for the opportunity to draw from an undraped model. The fee is $15 per session which runs from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursdays. For more information contact Luko at rluko@telus.net or Axford at 604-462-9295.

Line, Paint, Clay opens at the ACT Art Gallery on Jan. 13 and runs until March 3. The opening reception is between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Jan. 13 and is free to attend.

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