“Plumbing”

Plumbing
LK Sukany | 2011 | Oil, acrylic and charcoal on canvas

Early on they were dark like this, had more grays and blacks and darker hues. Then over time, making a sharp break maybe about two-thirds the way in or so, they changed, got lighter and larger and whiter and seemed almost iridescent along the edges. And though there’s nothing that says an artist can’t change the way she views the world and the way she perceives it painting over the course of a year, there are reasons for that change.

For starters, in reviewing the paintings that make up the series Developed and Less Finished: Maintaining Life, which artist LK Sukany completed for her Master of Arts degree at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, there’s at least some degree of irony. Take the fact, for instance, that each of the casual, everyday activities and encounters set in watercolor and linseed oil on the canvas depicted a life entirely different from her own as she worked on the series—different from what she experienced in the little house with the crappy couch and the surfaces that wouldn’t be hurt by a little paint here and there, different from the isolation of the work.

And so, in considering that question as to why the texture and size and color of her work had changed over that interval, she says that perhaps it had something to do with the nature of memory. Perhaps the isolation of working in her studio, being away from day-to-day interactions and obligations for an extended duration, had loosened the ties to those experiences.

And when you ask her about the memories that she has of those events occupying the 33 paintings she’d done in the series—of the birthday parties, of the study groups and other mundane activities, such as sorting jars and fixing pipes beneath the sink—she says those memories have been largely sidled aside by memories of the creative process. Now the work calls to mind meetings with her academic advisers, and the stress of working, and what it was like to watch the dribbling of linseed oil on three paintings while working on a fourth.

“They’re about these social things and engaging in them,” she says, “[but] I had to remove myself somewhat to create them.” 

Be sure to head over to Wildwood Gallery at Little Rock’s Wildwood Park for the Arts later this month, where LK will be exhibiting Developed and Less Finished: Maintaining Life from Aug. 21 to Sept. 20.