Oliver Rothmann ’16
As you walk up the staircase from the Mather Hall lobby and into the second floor lounge, you will be welcomed by the Eclectric Circus art display in the Mather Gallery. Edguardo Lugo ’14 produced this group of ten pieces in 2004.
The exhibit features a series of paintings and masks that tells a story which Lugo describes as “the Puerto Rican integration of the Afro-Caribbean spiritual knowing that has sustained and nourished my people.” Edgardo Lugo grew up in Hartford, Conn. He started learning his craft from his father as a young boy. His father would teach him how to make artistic kites and venjigante masks, which are traditional Puerto Rican masks worn in festivals throughout the territory.
Lugo was encouraged by his natural talent to draw and was admitted into a special after-school program for gifted students. He shared ideas with several of his friends in the program and learned from them too. He writes, “In the end, I found that the more I shared, the more I learned not only of different cultures, but of myself as well.”
Today Lugo says that his art is influenced by his family, community, the city of Hartford, and the natural wonders of Puerto Rico. These aspects of his life find their way onto his canvas as realistic aspects, parts of surreal picture stories, or abstractions.
Lugo’s play on words in the title of his exhibit, Eclectric Circus, may be of interest to many people. He combines the words “eccentric” and “electric” to create the first word in the title of his series. Having seen the story that he tells with these 10 pieces, I can tell you that his art perfectly represents the title that he has given it. Many of his pieces have a mosaic-like background that creates for his central image to pop out at the viewer, often creating a stark contrast with the subject of his pieces.
Edgardo Lugo uses the word “electric” in the title of his exhibit because of the bright colors that he uses in every piece. By looking at each piece one can tell that he masterfully mixes colors until he has the perfect shade of a color such as green, purple or orange. Many of these electric colors are utilized in the backgrounds of his pieces.
Lugo has several signature techniques that he uses in almost all of his paintings. Lugo uses strong, vivid backgrounds in all of his pieces. On top of the background he paints his central image—most of the time a face or symbol—that is strongly outlined in black so that it is clearly seen.
His signature piece is a perfectly round face vividly outlined on a colorful, mosaic background. In the Mather Gallery there are three or four of these pieces, but each one is very different in its own way.
As you progress from picture to picture throughout the exhibit, Lugo shows a story of the Eclectric Circus. The best thing about the story is that it is open to all interpretation that one can imagine. There is no set in stone meaning to this group of pictures. He uses his life experience to illustrate his childhood and where he came from. He also includes a venjigante mask in his exhibit that he was taught how to make from his father when he was a boy. In this regard, Lugo’s story is more than just a collection of ten paintings.
These 10 paintings are eccentric and electric and will leave you in awe as you walk back down the stairs into the Mather lobby. The exhibit will be displayed through February 27. If you have a spare moment before lunch or dinner, go up stairs and appreciate the story that Edgardo Lugo tells with his exhibit of vivid and modern artwork.