Lucong

Lucong was born in Shanghai China in 1978. When he was eleven Lucong’s family moved to Muscatine, Iowa where they remain today. In 2000, after graduating from college, where Lucong had studied biology and fine art, he was drawn to Denver’s rising potential, both economically and culturally. It was in Denver that Lucong joined the Art Student’s League to continue his passion for drawing and painting. His work was an immediate success. Lucong’s large-scale portraits are captivating, and often haunting. He said in an interview with Colorado Modern, “I think the size and all leads you to the eyes. A lot of artists avoid painting the figure looking straight at the viewer. That’s what I really like to do. That’s why I like to paint. I really like the face. The head, the face is the key to me. I enjoy the figure, but I really like the face.” Lucong continues to work at his studio in Denver, Colorado and has also returned to the university to pursue a Master’s Degree in Social Science and Humanities.

Recent Exhibitions, Awards and Publications

May 2004 cadence, Space Gallery, Denver
Review, Art Papers, July/August 2004
Review, Westword, June 24-30 2004
Brief, The Denver Post, June 26 2004
March 2004 Character Sketches, Fresh Art Gallery, Denver (Invitational)
Character Sketches, Prose Poetry by Hilary DePolo
November 2003 Art and Soul Expo, Art Student’s League, Denver
Overview, Rocky Mountain News, November 26 2003
Featured Interview, Colorado Modern, November 2003
August 2003 New Paintings and Drawings, Space Gallery, Denver (Solo Show)
Review, Westword, August 14-20 2003 (attached)
Review, Rocky Mountain News, August 22 2003
Work Featured, Rocky Mountain News, November 8 2003
March 2003 New Drawings, Space Gallery, Denver
February 2003 Pornorific, Andenken Gallery, Denver (Invitational)
January 2003 Momentum, Fresh Art Gallery, Denver (Inviational)
Overview, Rocky Mountain News, January 17 2003
November 2002 Art and Soul Expo, Art Student’s League, Denver (Best of Show)
Article, Rocky Mountain News, November 14 2002
Column, Rocky Mountain News, November 16 2002
Overview, Rocky Mountain News, November 18 2002
Column, Denver Post, November 26 2002
Column, Rocky Mountain News, November 30 2002
July 2002 New Paintings, Space Gallery, Denver (solo show)

REVIEW
Denver Colorado
By Troy Briere, Art Papers, July/August 2004

Painting from life is a tricky business. Gone, mostly, are the days of a model sitting for an artist. With the advent of photography, the ease of snapping a shutter has supplanted the necessity of the model for all but a point and shoot, thereby distancing nature immediately from the process of making a painting. It is too simplistic a view, however, to fault only photography as the cause of art’s inability to act as a mimetic device. Art imitating life is a prospect doomed to failure, especially when painting something as familiar to all of us as the figure. Brushstrokes, non-local color, scale, etc. all act to place a boundary between view and the viewed --- reminders of the fact that this is a painting --- no matter how charged or familiar the situation/subject depicted.

The question becomes whether the artist can operate within these constrictions and allows the audience to see beyond/into the surface of the painting to harvest meaning despite the medium’s inherent inadequacy in conveying the human experience. With this in mind, the show on display at Space Gallery takes these mimetic concerns to task, with three Denver-based figure painters attempting to transgress these limitations to foreground content crouched in overtly painterly or fractilized surfaces.

The front gallery is subsumed, primarily, by the paintings of Wes Magyar. These works, though medium-sized in scale, dominate the space with an intimatist energy, as if we are looking into carefully selected moments deemed by the artist as ready for consumption. Something is happening in these paintings, but nothing is completed. The subject are held at the moment just before or soon after an actionable decision has been made, relegating results or consequences of the actions to the fortress of the viewer’s imagination.

The Hunt, for example, depicts two men; both of them bearded, haggard and carrying pointed sticks, these men single out the weakling of the herd and prepare a plan of action. One figure points, the other peers toward the intended battleground. Not unusual, if not for the fact that the figures are outfitted in business attire and hunt in suburbia. While this is not the kind of moment that we experience, it is hard not to feel as though we have been made privy to it and, subsequently, force ourselves to find points of relation – even though none may exist.

In contrast to Magyrar, Lucong – who is on display in the center gallery – seems content to capture moments not so clearly defined in their immediacy, but rather in their intimacy. The figures do not appear to be performing, but existing, and while posed seem balanced. Set in front of either flat planes or patterned fabrics – which limit the paintings’ depth and remove, further, the idea of theater – the subjects read as though they are poised for the moment but not action. It is in this capturing of the ordinary that Lucong comes closest in this show to employing Intimatist method.

The quietude that permeates “Hope” is representative of this method. In the painting Lucong limns the depth of the private instant --- one caught purposefully by mistake --- when a young woman reaches above and inspects --- her vagina. It is not a gynecological event, but rather a segment of time captures and wrapped in potentiality. Does the title simply give the name of the model or infer an emotion? What does she hope for? No will to action, but rather a will to reflection --- all energy is potential.

Potential, it seems, are what the figures in Lui Ferreyra’s paintings seem to lack – potential energy, potential movement, potential action. They rest. Passively inhabiting the canvasses, their skin and clothing exploded into planes like a topographical map or Kansas as seen from a jetliner, these personages seem caught between those of Lucong and Magyar in their intent. Private quiet moments are captured with a disjointed bitmapping; the effect of which is to make foreign the familiar. In this way Ferreyra’s controlled work acts as a salient counterpart to the rest of the show.

Although these artists approach painting from life in different fashions, all seem to believe, rightly or wrongly, in art’s capacity to emulate life, as a mimetic device. All work from photographs, all deal with surface in an aggressive manner --- brushstrokes plainly visible, planar breakdown surfaced --- and all bring to the fore the contents of moments overlooked. An incalculable look, a hand gesture, dimmed light, muted colors; all ring the significance bell to someone, somewhere. Sympathy for the figures and empathy for their plight – or lack thereof – resonate in these works and despite the medium’s shortcomings, Magyar, Lucong and Ferreyra all seem content to continue trying. The results are worth the effort.