Brazilian contemporary artist Lucas Arruda paints ethereal, atmospheric landscapes that blur the boundaries between abstraction and figurative imagery.Read More
While seemingly drawing from nature, his mysterious, almost transcendental images do not depict a specific locale, but rather the complexity of the mind and the connection of experienced sensations within one's inner mental state.
The São Paulo native, a painter since childhood, was part of a generation reclaiming painting as a contemporary art form in Brazil as he entered art school. Graduating with a BFA from Faculdade Santa Marcelina in São Paulo in 2009, the artist's main body of work in the following decade has singularly revolved around painting meditative landscapes and seascapes.
Arruda's intimately sized works are often seen as referencing the 19th-century romantic sublime landscape tradition seen in the likes of Turner or Constable. This may be true in so far as the technical aspects are concerned: his images similarly suggest vast landscapes and seascapes through a faint horizon line that divides thick hazes of naturalistic colours radiating with transcendent light from beneath.
Arruda, however, stressed to Angeria Rigamonti di Cutò in Studio International, 'the only reason to call my works landscapes is cultural.' It is the viewer who instinctively registers Arruda's images as landscapes. However, none of his images can be traced to any location other than the artist's own mind, and their reference is primarily tied to memories of particular sensations.
The principle series that Arruda has developed throughout his career has been 'Deserto-Modelo' (2010–ongoing). Originally inspired by a quote from the Brazilian poet João Cabral de Melo Neto, 'Deserto-Modelo' intimates the existential quality of a desert found in Arruda's work, which is a place defined by its emptiness and absence of defining features, or sense of time.
The series encompasses a large and diverse body of paintings including relatively detailed jungle images, various landscapes and seascapes, and more abstract monochrome works. Stressing the continuity and connectedness of his work, Arruda has christened multiple works, solo exhibitions, and his first monograph, Desero-Modelo (2018), with the name.
The Deserto-Modelo concept has gained Arruda recognition not just in Brazil, but across the globe. His work has appeared in group and solo exhibitions in galleries across Europe, Britain, the United States, and South America.
In 2019, Arruda had his first major show in New York with David Zwirner, Deserto-Modelo, introducing a new audience to his complex meditative landscapes. That same year, Arruda's first major institutional exhibition—by the same name—was held at the Fridericianum in Kassel, under the auspices of director Moritz Wesseler.
His work also features in several major public collections including the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo.
Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2020