Mara De Luca
Lilith and the Sun
Long inspired by the contradictory qualities that exist within the same subjects—the unresolved tension of Los Angeles’s natural and artificial landscape, for instance—Mara De Luca’s new group of paintings, on view at TOTAH, move between the material and the immaterial. Beginning with two colors and blending them on the canvas, De Luca develops her abstract compositions through expressive brushstrokes and tangible interventions. She knows that a work is done when it becomes the feeling of the sky, the light, or a certain time of day.
With their hazy and luminous colors, De Luca’s suite of skyscapes recall the work of Rothko and Frankenthaler as much as they do Tiepolo and Turner: she makes use of the kind of transcendent illumination that spans Renaissance, Romantic, and Abstract Expressionist painting. De Luca cites the influence of the AbEx movement’s gestural scale and distillation of color as well as the expansive vistas memorialized in Baroque art’s illusionistic painted ceilings, whose radiant cloudscapes seem to open up to the skies above. It is from these converging art historical sites that her unique visual language emerges: by focusing on creating fields of light, De Luca makes paintings that you can fall into. In Dusk Haze (East to West) (2019)[pictured], for example, a delicate gradient of clouds fading across a seemingly infinite sky is bisected by a copper plate—as much a sharp metal cut into the heavens as it is a visual interruption.
Mara De Luca, Dusk Haze (East to West), 2019. Acrylic on canvas over panel with copper plated element, 48 × 68 inches.