Artist Statement /Les Luxemburger
visual artist, art educator, graphic novelist, animator.
I see my work as meaningful and exploratory arts-based research into the ways that ecology and art intersect. My work incorporates information I have obtained in my environmental and education careers and the nostalgic connection I have had with Nature since childhood. Sometimes the evidence of nature in the city, vanishing and resurfacing between the cracks of urban decay, as well as the organic character of abandoned/relic buildings and the way that they serve as ‘memory banks’, reignites my childhood memories of playing and exploring natural forms that no longer exist. A way for me to hold onto and cherish the temporal and hope for the repair of these vanishing spaces and places. These images of loss of nature keep emerging in my work in the form of paintings, drawings and mixed media work about Nature’s struggle to survive and adapt, and our collective disconnect from biodiversity.
I create acrylic and tempera paintings, drawings, animated film clips (stop motion and claymation films), upcycled art (art made of recycled materials) and mixed media works made of conte, graphite, pastel and ink on mixed mediapaper, canvas, primed materials and wood panels. I paint expressionist and realist paintings, and use a variety of approaches and techniques such as dry brush, impasto, scumbling, and paint tonal/under paintings and Grisaille paintings. I paint Plein air, and also within my studio. One of my favourite subject matters is to critique the changing meaning of the ‘iconic’ Ontario landscape like Georgian Bay and Killbear Provincial Park. Within my paintings I critically examine themes of cultural memory, the meaning of “pristine wilderness” in the context of a modernizing world. When painting landscapes I work from large forms to smaller intricate details using an Alla prima method. I work in a variety of sizes, preferring large format. I prefer to work in acrylic and tempera paint on canvas and wood because of the fluid, tactile nature of paint; the nature of painting allows me to achieve unique textures, tones, line, value and forms.
In addition, I have been making eco-city models for eight years – these models feature sustainability best practices like green roofs, bioswales, green building materials, and natural corridors. I bring these models into schools and show them at public events. In this way it calls into question the limiting beliefs that people have about what an urban environment is, and forces them to re-examine their stereotypes and re-imagine and visualize a city that is both environmentally sustainable, functional and aesthetically pleasing.
In my stop motion animation films, as well as my upcycled art projects and graphic novels I explore environmental issues such as climate change, habitat loss, species at risk and green design. Most recently I have been focused on completing a graphic novel called Earth Charter that explores issues of climate change, habitat loss, species at risk and green design. Earth Charter (www.earthchartergraphicnovel.com) is a graphic novel that follows a young man’s journey on discovering meaning in his life amidst environmental destruction and lack of employment. The graphic novel takes the reader through a visual exploration of the Ontario Greenbelt, oil production and extraction, species at risk, habitat loss, nature/species adaptations, climate change and human settlement patterns in Ontario and North America.