Luke Achterberg draws inspiration from two very specific American sub-cultures: urban graffiti and hot-rodding. He uses the combination of these two very particular aesthetics to create a new visual language. Conceptually, these are bold, contemporary embellishments of structures unrelated to the contemporary additions of spray paint or automotive adornments that stylize and personalize their functional substrates. Aesthetically, Achterberg’s work is the dynamic link that bridges them together; an expressive look Achterberg refers to as “SuperSleek.”
His interest in hot-rodding stems from growing up with the welders and automotive customizers in his family; he is a certified welder himself. He uses his industrial skills and adds his own touch, which transforms raw steel and automotive paint into works of elegance and meaning. He captures both the academic ideals of fine art and the technical aptitude that graffiti artists and custom automotive specialists develop outside of academia.
Achterberg’s work translates the emotional gesture that is seen in both of his muses. He employs curving forms with whiplash tendrils that animate the works and afford them an anthropomorphic nature, as if someone’s tag or custom paint job came to life. Each has a balance of line and form, color and pattern, and also the physical, structural balance of the heavy steel. And yet, the works give the impression of floating, almost dancing, across the wall.
Luke William Achterberg grew up in the Fox River Valley Region of Wisconsin; the Grandson of welders and the son and nephew of automotive customizers and painters. He studied fine art, psychology, and philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and obtained a Welding Technical Diploma from Western Technical College in La Crosse. He received his MFA from the University of Kentucky where he received the Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award from the International Sculpture Center. He has completed a residency at Art-St-Urban in Switzerland and the resulting work was exhibited at Art Basel in 2013. He maintains his own active studio in Lexington, Kentucky and teaches Sculpture and Ceramics part-time at Morehead State University. Luke Achterberg exhibits work both outdoor and indoor throughout the United States and Switzerland.