Decrepit cityscapes, By Cate McQuaid, Boston Globe, May 16, 2012
All seems lost for civilization in Alex Lukas's mixed-media works on paper at Steven Zevitas Gallery. The topic is not new. Lukas renders cityscapes, abandoned and overgrown. Still, he does it with extraordinarily intricate detail that pulls you in.
The largest (again, all are untitled), more than 4 feet high and 12 feet across, shows a crumbling, classical structure with several arches; perhaps it was a stadium. Overhead, Lukas has airbrushed the sky in vaporous gray. Bright blue patterned grids pop off the interior walls of the arches — these, along with images of decaying billboard ads, were silkscreened.
The rest, the artist describes by hand, variously in ink, acrylic, watercolor, and gouache. Ivy, moss, even trees grow off the arches. A railroad bridge is visible in the distance; there is flooding in the foreground. The water alone is gorgeous — reflective and murky, sprouting with plant life, shallow, but holding the whole picture up. The different textures and tonal values of the different mediums make for a lusciously complex image.
In a handful of smaller works, Lukas draws and paints over cityscapes torn from pages of books, taking pictures of functioning cities and turning them into disaster scenes; most are flooded with teal-blue water, with buildings half-immersed. Again, this artist's precision makes something rich of what might be a throwaway picture. His technique is all there and more. His imagery, though, needs to go even further.