Photography by Iron Glacier Creative

Luke Rudman // Exploring the depths of trash-to-treasure in Avant-garde portraiture

The young artist, Luke Rudman, comes from a creative home. Despite the unfortunate and untimely death of his father, his legacy has instilled a deep appreciation for art in Luke from a young age. The eighteen-year-old artist is popularly known for his intricate body art creations. “I started exploring my body as a canvas after realising my own fascination with transformation and the transformative process I undergo whilst creating my art.” Although his chosen medium is sometimes perceived as unconventional, Luke feels that perhaps that is reflective of his non-conforming position in society. “This art is, in some way, a celebration of individuality and resilience.”

The initial process of creation is situated around the ‘ordinary’ – something will catch Luke’s eye and he will start formalising a work around it. “I make my elaborate headpieces from ordinary household things, things most people have in their garage or garden.” Luke describes this process as, “trash to treasure” and cites it as an important aspect of his work. Besides being inspired by the day-to-day world, Luke is also influenced by artists like Gustav Klimt and Picasso. “You don’t need expensive supplies to make impactful art, just an imagination and openness to be inspired.”

All of his works are paired with poetic text pieces that provide a conceptual entry point into his work. “The unconscious part of your mind is a strange thing. I almost never begin creating an artwork knowing what its message is. I feel my creativity blindly guiding me through the artistic process and only after the artwork is complete does the work’s message reveal itself to me.” Luke’s work is often located as a commentary on social and environmental issues. “I also see the idea of art in society changing. People are starting to see the value of art that exists outside of the confines of a painted canvas or sculpture. The place for fringe artwork in the art world is growing.”

Living in Port Elizabeth poses some challenges with regards to displaying and exhibiting his art. Luke notes that, “most people living here have not been exposed to any form of unusual/avant-garde art. It has been extremely interesting watching people’s reactions to my art.” However, the democratization of the internet has meant that platforms like Instagram cater to developing a global audience. “Art has an amazing ability to communicate with its viewer and in our quickly shifting society I feel a responsibility to point out issues.” Luke will continue to advocate for issues he feels passionately about and hopes to continue growing as an artist.

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