Painter Jeffrey Luque took an unexpected detour. He talks about “happy accidents,” and to him, they’re no small thing.
Follow the big visceral moments how the self-taught Brevard artist came to create the flowers that are so prominent in his recent work. “You don’t think of flowers in the high desert,” he admits, “but that’s where I started painting them.” Luke has always focused on figurative painting, but sees bold, colorful flora contrasting with rather monochromatic ones. The intensity of the juxtaposition of New Mexico’s landscapes inspired him to incorporate them into his repertoire. A perennial series blooms featuring female portraits adorned with gorgeous oversized flowers.
Many painters, even the very accomplished ones, find oil paints to be too finicky. But Luke, an accomplished autodidact, jumped straight from pencil drawing to oil paint with no training. Also, unlike most painters, he rarely mixed palettes. Instead, he builds it up in patient layers—allowing each to dry before applying the next.
Oils are known to take a long time to dry, though, so he can take anywhere from six months to a year or more to complete a piece.
“This is a study on how [the paintings] They themselves have grown and changed over that time, and how my experiences have influenced work along the way,” he said.
Luke lived in Montenegro from 1995 to 2000. Then he returned to his native Florida — spending a three-year hiatus in New Mexico.He has exhibited in Europe and Asia and debuted his large-scale work in Jacksonville, Florida in 2017 girl with flowers Painting, and artist-in-residence at the city’s CoRK arts district.
The show was a huge success, with hundreds in attendance, and Luke wore Incognito to observe honest, unfiltered reactions to his work. “I usually wear a beard and glasses, but I shaved and wore contact lenses,” he said. “As a bartender, I gave 3D glasses that magnify the wavelengths of light and color. People looked into the depths of the painting, excited. They were still talking about the show.”
The interactive response delights Luke, for whom art is a vehicle for transcending self-awareness. He moved back to western North Carolina two years ago. “I want people to lose themselves in my work and explore themselves as they delve deeper,” he said.
When Luque’s massive canvas (six feet by five feet) is combined with his masterful use of pointillism technique, it creates a powerful dual dynamic. From a distance, they look like lifelike portraits. But getting closer, one begins to see many intricate details that Luque describes as “almost abstract.” He likens the experience to the relationships people have with each other every day. First impressions trigger ingrained, cautious responses.
“But when you get to know people better, you see the complexity behind the chaos and the hidden influences that made them.”
Luke’s own experience is a good example. “In high school, I was very isolated. I stuttered, I had bushy eyebrows, and people thought I was intimidating. But when I moved to Black Mountain, the community was very caring and supportive.
“I could control my stutter and stop feeling isolated – that’s when I started painting in oils.”
Jeffrey Luke, Brevard. Luque’s studio at 162 West French Broad St. in Brevard is open during the period Brevard’s Fourth Friday Gallery Walk. His work is also part of it indivisible Group exhibition in continuous gallery (147 1st Ave. East, Hendersonville, continuumartnc.com) Showings through Sunday March 5th.To learn more, please visit jeffreyluqueart.com Or “Jeffrey Luque Art” on Instagram.