Skin Deep

Attila Richard Lukacs paints his dreams

It doesn't take a brutal father to plant that image in your head. Just growing up gay, even on the ample Canadian plains, will do: the brothers who played hockey while Attila did crafts; the kids in high school who knew he was queer way before he did; the crush on a straight boy out of Caravaggio, sealed with a blow job that would be immediately denied. And through it all, the fantasy of fusing with the savior, the destroyer, the Man.

This is not an unusual rite of passage for a gay boy, especially an artist (think of David Wojnarowicz growing up close to the knives). If you're lucky and blessed with love, you come to some sort of peace with your (self-) destructive urges. And the stuff Lukacs is showing these days does suggest a provisional cessation of hostilities. Now the tough guys are languishing in their Eden while a Persian menagerie cavorts around them. And the swastikas, at least in this painting, are a faint white shadow.

It's impossible to say what this gesture of erasure means, though Lukacs insists, as he does whenever he's asked to explain his work: "It's not a critique. It's coming from an eye." But the eye sees what the heart feels. So perhaps it's fitting to mention Lukacs's boyfriend, Claus. They met in Berlin four years ago, and they went where any young gay couple on a first date might: to the baths. "We were sitting in this room watching the hair grow on the walls," Lukacs recalls, "and he cried in my arms."

‘‘It’s not a critique,’’ Lukacs says about his work. ‘‘It’s coming from an eye.’’
Photo: Robin Holland
‘‘It’s not a critique,’’ Lukacs says about his work. ‘‘It’s coming from an eye.’’

There's the serial killer in your dreams, and then there's the man who cries in your arms. And that makes all the difference.

Research: Josh Lefkowitz

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