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Kevin Luthardt
"Early Childhood" oil on canvas
"Absence" oil on canvas
"The Good Listener" oil on canvas
Wisdom and folly. If you break down my current body of work into simple terms, these two themes are prevalent. I am interested in the visual exploration of wise and foolish behaviors and thought processes. My paintings on one level are sappy, humorous, childlike narratives but on another level deal with weighty emotional and spiritual material. The most successful of these images appeal to on's craving for childlike innocence as well as one's dealings with the adult conscience.

There is an obvious content of whimsical irony that invades most of my work. This is a result of my observations about the human condition coupled withmy Biblical Christian beliefs. We are ironic beings. Irony is in our thoughts and our actions, in the way we contradict ourselves and those we interact with. It is in the mottos, quotes and slogans our popular culture adheres to. My paintings are simply quirky, ironic expressions of the wisdom and folly I observe in myself and in others, and how tey relate to the truth of the Bible and my relationship with Jesus Christ. Specifically I often derive themes from the four Gospels of Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and the wisdom books in the Old Testament such as Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. The titles of my pieces, which are very important in my work, are often quotations from the Bible as well as familiar catch phrases and popular sayings. These titles often actually contradict what is visually happening on the canvas, taking the irony to an even greater level.

Visually, I choose to focus on the relationship between a select few simple objects as a visual language to tell a story or a parable. The compositions are simple, allowing the eye to bounce back and forth playfully between objects in the given space. I have been asked Manny times if the figures and animals in my paintings have names. I answer in the negative because these stylized "characters" are simply metaphors for you and me. They do not need names. They are, if you will, a visually distorted but honest picture of the "every man" . A lot of the images are set in spatial landscapes, which I use mor as stages rather than subject matter. The Landscape supports the isolated objects and allows them to act out their particular narrative.

My work has been influenced by a variety of sources. My ideas can and do come from just about anything; observing what is going around me visually and otherwise. The quirky childlike aspects of my work are influenced by my love for children's book writer's and artists such as Lane Smith and Dr. Seuss; and cartoonists like Bill Watterson and Berke Breathed. I am interested in the American Regionalist Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton for stylization of form; Kathy Kollwitz for her social conscience; Surrealists like Peter Blume and Miro for their offbeat, playful, mysterious elements; and Casper David Friedrich and Thoman Cole for the isolation in their work. A recent influence who touches several of the elements in my work is painter Michael Sowa. I have also borrowed thoughts and sentiments from writers such as C.S. Lewis, Mark Twain, William Goldberg, A.A. Milne and others.