Martin Lukáč

Martin Lukáč in dialogue with Steven Cox

Steven Cox: Can you tell me a little about yourself and your background? Are you working full-time in your studio?

Martin Lukáč: Hello everybody. I´m Martin and I come from a little country in the center of Europe called Slovakia. I grew up in the capital Bratislava and after high school I started to study fine art. I live in Prague (Czechia) these days where I also studied on the AAAD at the Academy of Fine arts. During my studies I also went to the Academy of fine Arts in Leipzig, Germany, for one semester, before finishing my studies in 2016. Now I have a super tiny studio in the city center of Prague where I work on daily bases. So yes I do full-time studio practice.

SC:  I am curious if you have a daily working routine? Do you have any morning rituals or habits that contribute towards a productive day within the studio?

ML: Yes I actually have a lot of them. First thing in the morning I have a smoothie drink with various fruits and vegetables. Then I practice five Tibetans to maintain good mood and posture. During the whole process I listen to very loud music, because that´s how I like it. After this I have morning coffee and I start replying to emails, and then I post something on my Instagram. Finally I go to my studio. I´m still structure myself like this but when I travel or the circumstances are different I also change my morning routine.

But all this helps me to become energetic for my studio time. It is super important for me to go there and start with full power. I prefer to work mostly around the noon time until 5 o’clock. Then my energy gets lower and I need to stop and have a break. Usually I go to some opening or something where I can relax a bit and forget about the studio for a few moments.

SC:  Can you please tell me about your studio set up? Would you say that your current studio is ideal, or are you seeking a larger/better space? 

ML: As I mentioned earlier I have a room under the staircase, just like fucking Harry Potter   So it isn’t ideal but maybe thanks to this I have the advantage like Harry and it makes me humble and distant from the world of big wizards and witches.

Surely I can imagine a bigger studio and these days I do seek for a new one abroad. Will see where life takes me. For now I want to maintain working on new paintings and after I find the right place I decide. Got to do it step by step.

SC: To what extent do you consider your city as being an influential factor in the shaping of your work? Do you feel that your surroundings have influenced you in one way or another?

ML: It is a good question but I honestly don’t know. Prague is full of tourists especially the city center so you are kind a trapped. You don’t see any building. I just go from home to the studio and that is it. And I don’t get inspiration from the architecture or the surroundings, explicitly more from life and the daily situations I experience.

Surely it helps when you have new surroundings and that is why I need to move on. Honestly I’m bored here. I don’t like the city anymore.  Well as I think about it right now it does shape your work or at least you have new or different impulses from the place where you work. During my studies I changed studio five times and it was quite refreshing. So it is time for me to do it again.

SC: I am interested to know how you plan your works. To what extent does improvisation play in your painting? 

ML: Well I like the accident while painting because it brings magic to the work. Accidents could be controlled but also not. I like to work both ways. Usually I take one motif and I try to paint it in more variations to see what can I get from a specific theme.  Mostly I do a ton of drawings before I start to paint in order to prepare myself for it. I don’t use brushes anymore I work with the roller or only the sponge. These are actually hard to control so that is a type of accident for me. I can either control the composition and topic or sometimes I don’t control the roller strokes, they are just raw or weird and they make nice trails. After I do the few first paintings of one series I continue more freely and I improvise too. Sometimes vice versa.

SC: How would describe your work to someone?

ML: Usually I´m just saying that I paint “blasts”.  I don’t like describing my work that much. Depends who I talk to at the moment. I just show it on my phone and I add a commentary:  “I paint something like this”.

SC: I am interested in the notion of preciousness and at what stage a painting or work becomes discarded in the studio. Do you have a tendency to destroy failed paintings/works? 

ML: I do it all the time actually. I have that kind of element present in my work, permanently destroying and changing the work with some sort of power. A bit of force but the result must look natural, and I like also if I feel the whole process in the result too. I know that the work is finished when I´m losing contact with it and I look at the painting and it feels like it is not mine. Currently I am painting on raw canvas and trying to find shapes. I press the canvas against another that was stretched onto the wall and painted on. I thought that I totally lost it but after I saw the stains and marks on the canvas which was stretched on the wall I realized that this could be the way. Also the cotton canvas from the other side had those marks and stains… I was like wow let´s proceed with this.

I like that it has the power and this scrawlish method I use but they look so different. It is almost a graphics technique. And all this happened only thanks to the idiotic studio I have. It is a small room that contains the heating system for every apartment in the block. I can’t paint in there with oil paint during the winter because it may explode if I use turpentine. Crazy right?

SC: Could you tell me about the works of yours that are currently in progress in your studio? 

ML: Yes I can because I already started to talk about it. I haven’t use acrylic paint for approximately five years or something like that.  So this is also a new situation for me. In the new work I really try to find the motifs I want to use. The humanoid shapes, but it turns out differently. The paint and the raw cotton canvas is showing me a new option that is awesome. I discovered this graphic technique within this new series. In 2017 I did for the first time in my life a dry point and this is like a sequel.  Back then I was so happy to do a graphic technique and finally it happened also in my usual practice.

SC: What are some of the key items or art materials that you always need to have close to hand

ML: Charcoal, paper, roller, oil paint, canvas… nothing special I can paint without music and telephone etc… I don’t need it at the moment it is actually disturbing me.

SC: Can you highlight some of your influences and discuss how your influences have made an impact on you and your practice?

ML: Wow yeah I like a lot of authors and it depends on my mood what do I adore at the moment. I will just name spontaneously some painters and musicians. I would like to answer your question but I don’t know if I can do it properly. Maria Lassnig, David Ostrowski, Joshua Abelow, Josh Smith, Honza Zamojski, Sanya Kantarovski, The Underachievers, The Mars Volta, Young Lean, Stormzy, Christopher Nolan, Frank Miller, Gilles Deleuze…..

Changes every time or I mean there is lot of artists I like and more and more are showing up so it is hard for me to say few names. I named those whom I thought are the centerpieces for me. Everything what I encounter influences me a bit.

SC: What future exhibitions do you have scheduled?

ML: I have an opening with Anu Vahtra in Budapest at Chimera Project Gallery on 1st of March 2018 and then I´ll be a part of a cool group show curated by Brian Scott Campbell at No place gallery in USA and then a show at Eduardo Secci in Florence curated by Claus Busch Risvig in July 2018 and many more but these I look forward to the most right now.

SC: In relation to social media and more specifically Instagram, what are your thoughts on this as a platform to engage with new audiences? Do you have a love/hate relationship with Instagram or other online social media platforms?

ML: I think that IG helped me actually. I like it and obviously I´m spending a lot of my time just watching the stories of my friends and liking stuff. I like to like stuff. I don’t hate it. Sometimes it can be frustrating for some people to see what others are doing but I have a distance to this, otherwise I could also go totally nuts.

But yeah it’s great to be connected to people and make new friends which are really in the other part of the world. Thanks to instagram I discovered great artists which became my friends. I met my gallerist on instagram and also some collectors.

SC: Do you consider Instagram important for artists working today?

ML: I think yes.

SC: Any last points or thoughts you would like to share?

ML: Thanks for the interview Steven  

Images courtesy of Martin Lukáč, L21 Gallery,  Drdova Gallery , 35M2 Gallery, & Fait Gallery