The Walter Darby Bannard Archive

Lucas Blanco (2006)

Exhibition statement for "Lucas Blanco: Blanco del Fuego" at Dorsch Gallery, 2006.

Lucas Blanco is calling this show "Blanco del Fuego", white fire, white heat, making a complex play on the dominant color of the pictures and his own name, which is "white" in Latin and Spanish. The pictures are not "hot" at all, of course, but infused with an inner intensity that certainly justifies the word play.

Blanco has been exhibiting still life paintings for several years, at Dorsch and elsewhere, that are at the same time straightforward pictures of commonplace objects and highly original depictions of light and space. They are characteristically cool and open renderings of studio objects placed with apparent randomness on a table, illuminated by strong raking light and vigorously but cleanly painted with lots of scumbling. The colors are usually very subdued and often mostly white with bits of orange and a few other saturated hues applied in small doses to appropriate objects. Recently, he is painting larger, taking more chances, introducing more underpainting, more contrast of rough and smooth and more randomness in the compositions.

Blanco likes to establish the illusion of space with pale surrounding values, strong light and shade on the objects and then take deliberate risks with representation, "tempting fate" as he calls it. He plays with the integrity of the depiction, seeing how far it can be thrown off before collapsing. Sometimes this is done by softening contrasts to the point that an object appears to melt into the painting, sometimes by painting objects that are clear-cut but hard to identify or put into scale, sometimes by introducing marks that may or may not represent anything at all.

Recently, as can be seen in the reproduced painting, he has let things go on the edges and borders, as if the painting is not a painting of a table with objects on it but a painting of an unfinished painting of this subject. This affects illusion because you are pushed back and forth between perception of depth and perception of flatness, and introduces a somewhat discordant, if minor, distraction to the view that keeps the painting incomplete in the eye, keeps resisting resolution. Maybe this is just a perverse impulse on Blanco's part, but it is very original, and it works for me.

These are paintings that are at the same time very deliberately commonplace and very original. Put one on your wall and you will find that it will catch your eye every time you come in the room. That's what good art does.