the transparence of color and compositional harmony. Her transparent watercolor dabs do not pretend to imitate nature but rather intend to give it an original structural and emotional interpretation. Her draughtsmanship is virtuoso, as well as her ability to express the smallest nuances.
The litmus test of the creative process for Lukash is the ability to design rich color systems. She perceives the need sometimes to sacrifice the variety of colors in order to focus on a more restricted, carefully selected, color scale. Her dominant colors range between shades of greenish-blue and those of orange-yellow and brown. The richness of color results from producing rich tones of the same shade and combining them with complementary tones. Complex interrelations of contrasting and complementary colors produce a sublime lyrical harmony, which is at the same time warmly emotional and expressive.
Intensive brushstrokes, intermittently gentle and energetic, are typical of Lukash’s still life and landscape paintings. The latter are especially fascinating in their spontaneity: brushstrokes are swift and rhythmical, aiming to capture the ever-changing moods of nature. Colors permute with the variations of light and shade at different hours of the day, changes of weather and of the emotional atmosphere.
At the same time, however, the expressive layers of her unique compositional language make it intensely dramatical, allowing diverse aesthetic values and approaches to meet, interact and form a synthesis where each one contributes to another.
Svetlana Lukash’s attitude to the world and to creativity is twofold: an intimate eye for details affecting the senses, feelings and thought, but on the other hand an encompassing and distanced glance. Her choice of landscape and still life explains the need for this double vision, at the same time allowing to contain it.
This love for the sea is rooted in the artist’s childhood and her memories of watching her father’s boat. The flickering colors of the sea surface are also uniquely adaptable to rendering in Lukash’s chosen medium: the water color. Her boats and ships, setting out for a voyage of hope and promise into the unknown, acquire the vividness of living beings.
In various cultural traditions, the sea is viewed as a source of life. It excites human imagination and enhances imaginative expression in art, poetry and mythology. Stormy sea represents emotional upheavals, whereas calm sea restores peace of mind. To return to the sea means to return to the mother’s womb, which is an encounter between life and death.
The portrayal of the sea in paintings, in fact, varies from a vast expanse of wild power to a flat surface overhung with the play of light and shade; from representing the human yearning for the infinite to being perceived as a man’s grave.
The French poet Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) wrote these lines about man’s relationship with the sea:
Always, unfettered man, you will cherish the sea!
The sea your mirror, you look into your mind
In its eternal billows surging without end,
And as its gulfs are bitter, so must your spirit be.
You plunge with joy into this image of your own:
You hug it with your eyes and arms; your heart
Forgets for a time its noisy beat, becomes a part
Of a greater, more savage and less tameable moan.
In your own ways, you both are brooding and discreet:
Man, no one has mapped your chasm’s hidden floor,
Oh sea, no one knows your inmost riches, for
Your jealousy hides secrets none can repeat.
As the uncounted swarm of centuries gathers
You two have fought without pity or remorse, both
From sheer love of the slaughter and of death,
Oh, eternal wrestlers, oh, relentless brothers!
(Translated from the French by Ruthven Todd)
The aspect of ideas reinforces the overall significance of the paintings, following certain artistic principles. These principles, however, leave the viewer free to create his own associations.
Landscapes and still life paintings have always been given a human context. As Socrates puts it in Plato’s Phaedrus, “Fields and trees teach me nothing but the people in a city do” (sec.230). Lukash’s works bear a reflection of the moods, feelings and momentary excitements which took hold of the artist as she painted them. Her landscape repertoire encompasses views of the Negev, the Galilee, the Valleys and villages steeped in groves and garden greenery. Human figures appear at times as part of the view. Among city-scapes, the pathways of old Jaffa, Safed and Jerusalem are prominent. Lukash sees in her landscapes the realization of man’s ancient dream to attain the lost Paradise, as John Milton put it:
Where Houses thick and Sewers annoy the Air,
Forth issuing on a Summer’s Morn to breathe
Among the pleasant Villages and Farms
Adjoin’d, from each thing met conceives delight….
(Paradise Lost IX ll.445ff)
We are surrounded with things which we have not made and which have a life and structure different from our own: trees, flowers, grasses, rivers, hills, clouds. For centuries they have inspired us with curiosity and awe. They have been objects of delight. We have recreated them in our imaginations to reflect our moods. And we have come to think of them as contributing to an idea which we have called nature. Landscape painting marks the stages in our conception of nature.
depending on the extent of his knowledge of it his domination over it. Thus Lukash’s works, as do those of many painters, vary from tragic and heroic visions instilling fear and awe to visions of tranquility and consolation.
Landscape painting has evolved through many stages in various cultural periods. In ancient times, when man’s connection with landscape was spontaneous, and later in the Middle Ages, landscape was seen as threatening. The Renaissance saw it as a metaphorical background for man’s activities. Only in the 17th and the 18th centuries was there a turn towards creating autonomous landscape paintings, mainly in the Netherlands, England, North Italy and especially in Venice, where Carpaccio, Campagnola, Giorgione and Tizian became renowned for their landscape paintings. Still, however, it is man who dictated the status of landscape, primarily decorative, symbolic and allegorical. In the 18th century a radical change came about: Guardi and Canaletto turned the landscape into a veduta, a landscape view of panoramic breadth and of autonomous presence. These achievements have reached Italy through landscape paintings from the Netherlands, in which nature appears to dominate man altogether. In 18th - century paintings nature again is subordinated to man’s taste. It is only with the advent of 19th - century romanticism that nature becomes a vast sublime expanse where man is lost. Svetlana Lukash is a successor of those artistic approaches which inherited the Romantic ideology and later, that of the Impressionism.
of a virtuoso technique which manifests itself in graphic design as well as in finding a tonal balance between the visual aspect of nature and that of the paintings, between light and shadow, between static and dynamic imaging. Despite the quick moves of the brush upon the surface of the paper, the overall image is of clean prismatic effects. The tension of simultaneous contrasts, such as depicting depths of space within flat surfaces, is one of the most exciting qualities of Lukash’s paintings.
Her sensitive eye absorbs and filters out whatever is superfluous in a complex mass of data, distilling it to achieve a perfect combination of all the components of a composition. Her chief goal is to reveal a reality more essential than the ostensible reality on the surface. In the compositions she carefully builds, every element receives detailed treatment, the superfluous is cleared away, the significant gets stressed. The paintings are designed to yield guiding principles and evoke the viewer’s emotions. Albeit plein air paintings in character, they burst with emotional, romantic intensity. They possess a primal sensuality along with intellectual and aesthetic concern.
of each season: arid summer is painted in gold and sand, spring blossoms in a rich spectrum of primarily green tinges, autumn is golden-red, whereas rainy winter appears blurred by humidity and winds in nebulous grayish blues.
of the inner struggle Svetlana Lukash conducts between herself and her creative vision. Reality is always the same in essence, yet the visual aspect is transient, it takes a multitude of shapes. For this reason her paintings attach themselves to an infinite number of forms of affect and experience for the viewer, who finds himself as if in a theater, where the represented objects are the dramatis personae on the stage of the painting.
In her interiors and still-life paintings Lukash manages to achieve a metamorphosis where inanimate objects breathe with a life more intense than if they were alive. Inanimate objects testify to a dynamic relationship between human beings and their surroundings, a relationship so close that it miraculously results in a change of roles, where one may represent or image the other. Furthermore, Svetlana Lukash selects a point of observation from which the representation can lead the viewer to a specific mood which is beyond what is apparent in the representation.
Although Lukash does not literally portray people in her still life paintings, the human absence is not felt: on the contrary, by means of representing objects she succeeds in penetrating at greater depth the innermost recesses of the human soul, and thus she expresses emotional situations whose source is nothing if not human. Miraculously, the inanimate comes alive and the paintings are suffused with the magic that only an interaction between creatures may produce.
Most of Lukash’s still-life paintings transfer the viewer’s perspective from focusing on the center of the composition to diffuse itself towards the frame and beyond. Diagonal lines alongside straight-angle lines cross, every one in its turn, all the components of the moving and the static objects in the painting. These works gradually give way to symbolic works based on synaesthesia: one aesthetic medium functioning instead of another in the process of translating experiences from one sensory realm to another. This process makes an impression of giving a glimpse into Svetlana Lukash’s inner world – the magical world of an artist who creates representations for herself in the guise of objects, things, or mysterious associative, symbolic and intuitive images. Of particular interest is a series of works depicting potted plants, such as the plant Monstera Deliciosa, whose lace-like leaves create, together with the stem, a dancing movement that is almost human in its gesticulations.
By encircling part of the surroundings where objects are found, the artist creates the effect of a theatrical curtain, marking off a stage where the elements of a human drama – personal and universal – are arranged and foregrounded.
of the European tradition, yet in contrast to it she strives to organize the objects and to bring them to life in a purposeful compositional context, so as to bring out the syntactical and conceptual characteristics, with an emphasis on the modes of observation and of performance. Although metaphorical, these characteristics are revolutionary compared to the traditional naturalistic still life paintings of the Flemish schools of the 16th and 17th centuries or to those of Chardin in the 18th century and the still life paintings of the early 19th century.
This legitimacy allows Svetlana Lukash to transform material objects by means of expressive coloring, which creates in their place a subject and a spiritual atmosphere. Lukash’s yearning for a metaphysical dimension recalls Kandinsky’s saying that a good painting, be it abstract or figurative, is a painting which contains inner life to the extent that the death of its outer clothing only helps reveal it to the eyes of the soul.
Svetlana Lukash believes that only by finding the appropriate stroke of color and the right line is it possible to express in art the spiritual forms underlying the material objects. Color is a momentary individual product, as it is in the paintings of Van Gogh. It is not a symbol of a different, mystical light, as the symbolists claimed. Nor is it an expression of a feeling of calm and harmony, as in the works of Matisse; but it combines all these elements and more: color is a real spiritual existence found within the material, finite and mortal world.
In her paintings, whether of figures, landscapes or still life, Svetlana Lukash conducts a dialogue not only with the cultural factors in artistic traditions, but primarily with herself - a dialogue of desires with the facts of humanity and of its surroundings.