The Thread Paintings of Emil Lukas
Our architecture is a material-based approach to design. Personally, I am passionate about materials, and I believe a refined palette of authentic materials is an essential design tool. Further, I believe a disregard for materials and their methods of assembly results in built projects that lack the rich human experience that this type of expression can provide, and are, as a result, less successful.
Having grown up in the garment industry, I have a deep appreciation for the process of making. These open factories were rife with the infinite colors, textures, and patterns that influence our practice to this day. Spools of thread, dust in the air, rolls of fabric, and the sounds of humming machinery all shaped my experience. Over the years of practice, I’ve become particularly interested in the ways that architectural parlance intersects with the jargon of the garment industry. As architects, we refer to “urban fabric” on a daily basis, noting the ways that the intricacies of urban life mimic the interwoven threads of material. I’ve also come to think of some structural system as “threads”—materials that bind together disparate pieces of building into a common system.
As someone preoccupied with these lines of thinking, I’m particularly intrigued with the work of Emil Lukas, whose art stems from similar sensibilities about material. His “thread paintings” elevate common thread (which is both humble and highly accessible) into layered, dynamic pieces. The paintings, which convey a straightforward simplicity at first glance, reveal a deliberate, complex depth upon closer observation. Each of his threads, stretched over a simple frame, works to create an atmosphere of lightness and form. Together, they create a three-dimensional projection that grabs the viewer from within. As with most buildings, Lukas’s paintings are symphonies in many parts: simple elements come together to create a composition that’s much greater than the sum of their parts.
All images via Emil Lukas