Alex Lukas

Disaster Drawings at Space 1026

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Alongside the likes of artists Maximillian Lawrence, Matt Leines, Jeanette Mundt and Ned Vena, Alex Lukas is getting ready for 1026’s annual art auction on 11th December. “It is basically the one time a year when we make and money, so everyone here is working hard towards that event. The auction is always a ton of fun,” explains Lukas. “We have a lot of great art that has been donated and all the proceeds go to help us keep our doors open.” It’s that DIY undercurrent that still fuels the city’s premiere art collective, and Alex Lukas retains that self fulfilling inspiration with his paintings, comic and print work and zine publishing company Cantab Publishing. Currently on show is Lukas’ first solo exhibition of somewhat serene post apocalyptic, drowning American cityscapes with NYC’s Glowlab gallery.

Dazed Digital: Can you introduce Space 1026?
Alex Lukas: Space 1026 is located on the top two floors of a building in Chinatown. It was started about twelve years ago by some Philadelphia kids with ties to Providence, Rhode Island. I have adored this place since college, so I feel very lucky to be a part of it now. There are about 25 people who make art here. We also have a communal silk-screen studio, a small retail store and a gallery space that we run collectively. In the gallery we have monthly shows with visiting artists, where we encourage people to show art without a focus on sales.

DD: What about zines and Cantab Publishing?
Alex Lukas: Cantab is a small zine publishing company that I started about nine years ago. The term “company” implies that there is a business plan, or at least the potential to make a profit, and that doesn't really describe Cantab, hence the quotation marks. I make zines of things I am interested in, like interviews with my friends about back yard wresting or their gambling addiction or underground railroad tunnels. I also put out fake Batman comics and screen printed posters of super heroes. Occasionally I “publish” a zine of a friends work, but I'm just as excited to get a copy of a zine that a friend has made on their own.

They can be a highly personal means of communicating with friends and strangers alike and, at their best, they are beautiful, treasured art objects. But making a good zine also takes a shit ton of work. I have always thought it is really, really funny / frustrating that you can make a 24 page zine, filled months worth of material, add a five color silkscreen cover and if you charge over five bucks people balk at it. But you do a two color print in an afternoon and people have no problem throwing down thirty dollars to get a copy. I think that is starting to change a little bit as people who have grown up making zines are now showing in high end galleries and museums, but then these objects become "artists books made with a Xerox machine", and they loose a little bit of that accessibility.

DD: How would introduce your work? I love that you paint with different distinct styles...
Alex Lukas: I guess I have two distinct bodies of work that I’ve been working on recently. The first I call "disaster drawings" for lack of a better term. These are the drawings that depict flooded and overgrown cities and destroyed landscapes. They involve a lot of drawing and painting with ink, watercolor, acrylic; a whole lot of stuff goes into them. I also incorporate print making techniques into these pieces and find previously printed material that I work over and into.

The second body of work consists of the comic book, super hero stuff. This second group exists with the intention of reproduction and distribution; I basically try to rip of Jack Kirby and David Mazzucchelli without being too obvious about it. These images become silkscreen prints and Xeroxed comics and various other things. They are narrative and made in multiple, because that is the tradition of this type of picture-making; that is how comics exist, and I think that is important to the medium.
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