Luke Ahern

Media: Painting

Artist Statement

I am interested in the semantics of visual information, signs and symbols that affect our everyday life. Is a fence holding in something precious or protecting from something vile? Is a brick surface a quaint walkway or a walled barrier? Are words sounds that destroy or enlighten? My materials and tools vary widely in the studio in response to my surroundings. The materials are handled in a way the seeks directness. A comb is used to scrape, a tube of paint is used to squeeze, a knife is used to scratch. These simple gestures hope to shorten the distance between an art object and life. The act of play at hand is taken as a series of necessary improvisations that weave in and out of experience. The abstraction that occurs is a reaction to the absurdity of circumstance that is inescapable.


My wife and I are raising a mixed race family. Issues that are crucial to my family have never threatened me. I have not feared in a way that they will and have. My actions are accepted, theirs are scrutinized. This exists next to the sweetness of fresh cut grass, the squeal of a trampoline, the squeak of sneakers on hard hood. The warmth of the sun is chopped down by slurs on the playground. These experiences create a gap that is difficult to understand. This existence leads me to read, listen and create to further understand the world around me and to better equip me with the cultural tools needed to be an active participant in the world. Painting is used in this process to look closely and carefully. Ruthlessly encountering reality, overcoming obstructions and recontextualizing experience are actions pursued in the studio that stem from life as a person here and now. Producing cultural objects of significance is a way for people to communicate their circumstance that circumvents the reduction of language. Visual objects have an ability to speak about nothing and everything simultaneously. This dichotomy of perception is explored highly in my studio practice. 



“I am for an art that takes its form from the lines of life itself,

that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips,

and is heavy and coarse and blunt

and sweet and stupid as life itself.” - Claes Oldenburg