Lukas Keysell’s meditative illustrations teach us a lesson in patience
Lukas discusses his acrylic paintings which began as a cathartic exercise, and which are now a prominent element of his multi-disciplinary practice.
- Harry Bennett
- 6 April 2020
It’s hard to pin down the field that Copenhagen-based creative Lukas Keysell resides in. He tells us: “I find myself wanting to delve into unexplored media and ideas on every new project which opens up before me.” This is something Lukas is acutely aware of and has no intention of stopping any time soon.
Within a more design-based practice, Lukas’ work focuses more on the three-dimensional, “a hunger” that can be traced back to his bachelor’s thesis, where he considered “the possibilities of a three-dimensional language drawn in virtual and augmented reality.” It was a rigorous and intensely researched endeavour. “Research plays a significant role within the majority of my artistic and design endeavours,” Lukas says. “I feel it is important to form a backbone, in which ideas and concepts can expand to become experiments, and further developed into calculated designs.”
Lukas’ more illustrative work, however, manifests in the form of acrylic paintings, a “meditative process” with the aim of exploring the concept of form; “attempting to perfect the line” and “how a single width line can consume a page.” Inspired by silk screen printing, Lukas took this meditative approach very seriously in a somewhat ritualistic fashion, telling us “all of my paintings are done manually, with no aid from tape or rulers” followed by hours of repetitive painting “attempting to finish with a unified line-width throughout.” Lukas explains that “this idea of producing something without aided tools, and relying on the human concentration and skill adds to the art in some way.” This perseverance certainly shows a great element of care in his work. “I can spend at least half an hour trying to perfect a single circle or just a straight line for that matter,” he explains. The simple notion of understanding and care is what we believe is at the core of Lukas’ work, demonstrated in the prominence given to patience and the finding of meaning in detail.
This illustrative exploration, that began during his BA at Winchester School of Art as just “playful experiments”, is deeply rooted in memory and location. This might take the form of the music he was “listening to at the time” or “Aztec patterns and hieroglyphic drawings” from trips to Mexico and Egypt. “Being able to visit new places and experience new cultures is a central component to staying inspired,” Lukas clarifies, “the norms of a foreign city can throw you off-guard in the most pleasantly unexpected ways.” In the broader sense of Lukas’ discipline, he feels what is important is a “disconnect from your known culture” in order to commentate or “gain an insight into your current surroundings”. This distancing needs to be achieved – “having to adapt to a different way of living opens your mind to an altered perception of the things around you.”
His illustrations made their debut in his conceptual practice at KADK, where Lukas is studying his MA, in an image-making brief to “create a philosophical poster based on the notion of movement” in direct relation to the film American Honey. Choosing to interpret the final scene from the film, Lukas referenced “the three forms of motion found in the philosophy of motion within Aztec metaphysics,” those being “Olin (bouncing, oscillating) Malinalli (spinning, spiralling) and, Nepantla (weaving, intersecting).” This resulted in a sonic animation, including the music from the film, that unified Lukas’ conceptual design and acrylic illustrations for the first time. “There will probably be more crossovers to come in the future,” he tells us. “However, I do not want to restrict myself by just applying the same style over and over.”
The future for Lukas looks towards space, investigating “large scale, interactive sculptures and environments,” specifically in relation to the idea of a utopia. “I have found continuous ideas of utopia, which I find extremely relevant in today’s world,” Lukas tells us. Under the current circumstances, he is “taking the DIY approach… using my back garden to experiment with inflatable architecture as a space for quarantine and creativity.” Research has led him to mid to late 20th Century design works based around pneumatic systems by design studios like Archigram and Haus-Rucker-Co.
Ultimately, what can absolutely be said about Lukas’ mindset is that he has an almost obsessive compulsion to drive forward, a ravenous lust to keep evolving and doing, even in the trying times we find ourselves, his “desire to make and produce doesn’t lessen.”
About the Author
After graduating from Winchester School of Art, studying graphic arts, Harry worked as a graphic designer before joining It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in March 2020. He nows works as a freelance writer and designer, and is one half of Studio Ground Floor.