Luke Gray at Snyder Fine Art

Luke Gray at Snyder Fine Art
Art in America
November, 1998

Luke Gray goes where hardly anyone in this cynical art world dares venture: into the realm of the pretty and light-hearted. His multicolored paintings, which he calls Space Collectors, are angst-free Ab-Ex assortments of hand-sized gestural marks and ribbons of paint that fill these moderately large canvases to the edge. In both color and format, the paintings are almost distressingly similar, yet somehow Gray manages to keep them from becoming formulaic. Although the range of his palette is broad, there are usually some sky blues, leafy greens and lemon-and mustard-yellows. These colors are set off by black shadows and flashes of white; bright red is saved for accent. With their subtle, three-dimensional quality, the paintings resemble jumbled landscapes that have been cut up and put back together.

There is a lot of energy here. Using quick-drying acrylic paint Gray puts great store in working speedily and spontaneously. He claims to be inspired by the natural world, and indeed, his crowded images could be seen as microscopic visions of teeming organisms vying for space. But although the movements of these lively entities may appear random, Gray's brushstrokes are driven by a master plan. In fact, if one looks carefully, it's possible to discern, beneath all that chaos, a hint of a grid--even if it is breaking down.

Sometimes it's refreshing to see painting that's just painting, art that is simply about pleasure and makes no attempt to tear at your soul. There's power, too, in being able to bring something new to a worn-out genre, and Gray proves there is still gold to be wrested from Abstract Expressionism.


-Carol Diehl

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