In two distinct bodies of work, German painter Bernard Lokai explores the seemingly infinite possibilities of paint applied to canvas.
The first body of work, which he calls Landscape Blocks, is comprised of grids of 12 x 16 inch panels in which he both refers to and disrupts the history of painting. Each panel is a stand-alone abstract work. Some of them clearly allude to recognizable conventions, techniques or even specific artists, while others undermine those connections and still others have no recognizable precedent. He then arranges (and sometimes spends years rearranging) them into grids of 18 to 33 components, which together form the impression of a landscape. The tension between abstraction and representation operates as a metaphor for philosophical examinations of appearance and disappearance, permanence and impermanence, creation and destruction.
Individual large canvases form the second body of work. These make room for bold expressions of color and mark-making and often combine multiple painting techniques within a single work. From sprayed neon acrylics to thickly applied, gestural brushstrokes in oil, Lokai’s purpose is neither to express emotion nor reference a particular subject. Rather, his practice ceaselessly probes the traditions and tropes of painting in unbounded pursuit of latent meanings and potential.
Bernard Lokai was born in 1960 in Bohumín, Czechoslovakia. After his parents escaped from the former Czechoslovakia, Lokai grew up in Düren, Germany. He studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under Gerhard Richter and now resides in Düsseldorf.