Big Brown (1992)
Oil on linen
72.0 x 60.0 x 0.0
University Club of Chicago
Since 1983 Lutes has been a Professor of Painting and Drawing at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. He was graduated from Washington State University with a baccalaureate in art in 1978, and earned his Master of Fine Arts degree from Washington State University in 1982.
Exhibitions of his work have been produced by Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, Chicago; Linda Hodges Gallery, Seattle; Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Belgium; Ecole Superieure Des Beaux-Arts de Tours, France and his paintings have been included in the Whitney Biennial, NY; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Documenta IX, Kassel, Germany. Lutes works have been recognized with awards from the Illinois Arts Council; the National Foundation for the Arts; and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation. The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago presented Jim Lutes: The Development of Style in 1994 and Valerie Carberry Gallery presented Jim Lutes:New Painting in 2006.
Big Brown (1992) is an oil on linen, vertically oriented, abstract composition. The work is a layered flourish of marks, shapes, and strokes across the canvas.
Overall, the color palette is bold and contains rich primary colors of greens, blues, reds, and yellows among other hues and shades.
By layering rich primary tones, Lutes creates a stir of activity across the canvas. While strokes and swirls crisscross at all angles, there is a concentrated focus in the center of the composition that is enhanced by line and color.
Beginning at the top right corner of the canvas, one thin stroke of blue paint arches around the dense center of the image, cascading down the left edge and arching around to the lower left corner. This stroke frames the left edge of the composition and is mirrored by a slightly less defined orange stroke along the right edge of the composition.
These two lines frame, and therefore direct the viewer towards, the densely knotted world of abstract lines, colors, and strokes. Color also enhances an illusion of spatial depth and recessions. The dark background, comprised of brown, black, and rich red tones, suggests an illusion of depth by contrasting the lighter and brighter surface layers.
Amongst the whipping strokes of the composition are forms that abstractly reference reality. In the center of the composition is a muted brown and gray square comprised of three horizontal and vertical lines arranged in a grid structure.
The small square may be muted in tone, but its geometric grid pattern and volume stands out in contrast with the linear quality of the composition. Just slightly above the grid square is a white rectangle whose shape and structure have architectural references.
These two shapes within the swirl of colors and lines, pulls away from the purely abstracted composition and reorients the work so that it is potentially referencing, or being influenced by, forms abstracted from reality.
In Big Brown, Lutes has charged the canvas with unending layers of lines and shapes that bend and dance in a space, which at first seems unfamiliar, but upon deeper study, might be closely abstracted from reality.