Luciana Abait's Cultural Landscapes
By Reina Flynn
Argentinian artist Luciana Abait’s work has focused on the individual’s relationship between the powerful symbiotic partnership of nature and the urban world. She describes her works as “cultural landscapes” emphasizing humankind's aggressive intrusion on nature which she hopes will bring awareness to the public on environmental concerns.
Abait’s works are created by assembling a collage of images, many of which have a meaningful connection to her past experiences and locations she has visited and lived.In her newest series, Icebergs these images are collaged and digitized then printed on thick watercolor paper. She then works over this surface with pencils and chalk pastels, erasing the original photographic images beneath.
Essential to a study of Abait’s work is the role of water as contained by architectural elements such as swimming pools, and vegetation in landscaping. Her Sky series places human bodies in the clouds, as if swimming though the vapor.She developed Water Cities in which metropolitan centers, such as Los Angeles, are besieged by an unexpected oversupply of water, or by contrast, left strained by lack of it.
Abait’s current series Icebergs is a natural evolution of her body of work, looking upon water in relationship to both nature and humanity, although here she has focused upon the water being frozen. Icebergs originates from several sources: textbooks, photographs brought back from trips abroad, shots of snowfields and mountainsides taken in California. She then uses these to create a collage that is juxtaposed and integrated into a new vision of icebergs and landscapes.
In the past, she has printed mixed media works on canvas, over which she would apply acrylic painting and varnishes. She also printed other series on photo paper, or created photo-sculptures and installations.With Icebergs printing on watercolor paper and working with color pencils and pastels, is a process she finds fascinating. The action of applying pencils and pastels on the surface of the paper is an intimate and emotionally charged experience. Also, working with the fine tips of pencils on the minute details of the landscapes is a challenge, but produces a detailed and labor intensive piece.
Icebergs carries a strong environmental message emphasizing the need for humankind to change its current course of action. The theme of humans’ intrusion into nature is therefore always present in Abait’s works, giving the viewer the opportunity to reflect upon their environmental awareness.
Among Abait’s expressive influences, she counts J.M.W Turner, Francis Bacon, Anselm Kieffer, Gerhard Richter, Andreas Gursky. Although she tries not to refer to any artist in particular, she strives for originality. Acknowledging the adage, there's nothing new under the sun, she attempts to be as genuine as possible, speaking from both her heart and mind.
Before moving to Los Angeles thirteen years ago, Abait lived in Miami for eight years. Prior to that Abait studied in Europe, in the US travelling extensively. She views her work to be deeply informed by her life in each of these locales, the differences in the natural light, and the experiences she has had in them.
Reina Flynn is an Art History student at UCLA whom interned at CMATO in 2018. She recently completed a Curatorial program at Sotheby’s Institute of Art and is currently a Gallery Ambassador at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, California.