Lugus, Merike

Artist Bio:

I was perhaps an accidental painter, self taught, because painting was something I could do when my children were little. As a feminist in the ’70’s and ’80’s, my interest lay in portraying strong women who return the ‘male gaze’, boldly looking back at the viewer. From 1974 to 1984 I enjoyed being represented by the Estée Gallery (long gone), having a solo show each year, (including a solo show in Vienna in 1974). In 1985 my work caught the eye of the magazine “City Women” who did a feature article of my work. Since then I have shown my work in various Toronto galleries, as well as one in Bellingham, WA. When I moved to the country in 1990, I switched to sculpture for about 10 years, and had a solo show in the Art Gallery of Northumberland in Cobourg. Life leads through twists and turns, illness and health, and has brought me back to my art with a new vision and a new approach. Throughout, I have also maintained an interest in writing and have published a book of poetry and a novel.

Artist Statement:

As my husband was dying, I realized I needed a fresh start, a new way to look at painting. I turned away from oils and realism, from techniques and rules I was familiar with, curious about the mediums available in acrylics, which produced such vibrant, translucent effects. Looking for direction, I found two strong influences. Firstly, I was amazed by the spontaneous drawings by my granddaughter Violet (then age 4 or 5) — her abandonment, yet sense of proportion and colour. (Yes, I’m aware, it took Picasso 50 years to draw like a child :)) Secondly, I was drawn to the work of Jack Whitten, the American painter. By coincidence, when I discovered him, I had just found, through trial and error, how paint is in fact a layer of skin, and as such, could be separated, manipulated and, ultimately, carved into. My very first exploratory painting was an adult interpretation of a child’s sketch while treating each colour section as a layer of skin. My techniques have progressed with each painting as I establish a personal vocabulary of textures: sometimes soft, often tile-like, or muscular, distributing weight and colour, often avoiding focal points, giving the eye the pleasure of wandering.

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