The beast within

Bill Lutz depicts the dual nature of the human psyche in his paintings

“Bearer of Information” by Bill Lutz.

“Bearer of Information” by Bill Lutz.

Photo By David Robert

Bill Lutz’s paintings are on display indefinitely at the Upstairs Art Gallery, inside the Flannigan Building, 701 E. Fourth St. Call 544-3523.

Bill Lutz’s narrative paintings aren’t meant to be viewed singularly. His work is read as a series. A certain truth leaks from his canvases, and the viewers are left with a better understanding of their place in life and its infinite drama.

Lutz isn’t new to Reno’s growing art scene. He has been awarded grants from the Sierra Arts Foundation, and his murals mark the walls of the Boys and Girls Club of Truckee Meadows, along with several local middle schools. He was even commissioned to decorate the walls of St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral in Reno.

Now, Lutz is showing Reno his fine art at one of Reno’s newest art galleries, the Upstairs Art Gallery. His two series, The New Prophets and Confronting the Beasts, currently hang in this gallery, located inside the Flannigan Building.

The first painting in the collection, “1st New Prophet: Media Liberator” (oil on canvas), blends abstraction with realism. A man runs out the side of a television, with electrical cords dangling from his limbs. A child clings to his back, as colors cut and swirl around his head. The predella at the bottom of the piece is a two-dimensional view exposing the media controllers.

“Bearer of Information” (oil on canvas), the second prophet in Lutz’s series, reflects how we will receive our information. Shards of white light penetrate the figures in this piece. The central figure is bombarded with the infinite information of society. The story told in this piece resonates with the artist. In the bowels of his figure, Lutz paints the homestead of his recently deceased father.

“Corollary to the 2nd Prophet” (oil on canvas) represents the impact that our sense of belonging has on our psyche and how it passes from generation to generation. The blue-washed piece is a depiction of the Lutz homestead. The artist paints an image of himself and his father in this piece.

Lutz moves into the abstract in his series Confronting The Beasts. The transition piece between the two series is “Mother Earth Cradling the Fallen Angel” (oil on canvas). This painting straddles the line between the rational and the irrational. With earth-toned colors, Lutz exposes what certain primitive cultures call one’s “bush soul.” According to this belief, every person has a corresponding bush soul in nature, which ties him to his environment. The angel in this piece lies beneath a tree of both positive and negative forms, revealing through its foliage the world of that bush soul. A birth canal and the fallopian tubes of Mother Earth are painted in this piece.

To be human means to have obsessions, and Lutz exposes this in his piece “Confronting the Beast of Fixation” (acrylic on canvas). A floating eye with a saucer-like pupil occupies this piece. Smaller eyes surround this beast. The crowd of eyes seems ready to kill the giant eye hovering above.

Fixation is slayed in “Frenzied Dance of the Sacrifice"(acrylic on canvas). The master of the psyche is dead. But in “First Paradox” (acrylic on canvas), the beast rises once again. The beast was never killed but has instead multiplied. “The Re-emergence” (acrylic on canvas) is a return to rationality. The fallen angel is now aware of the dual physical and spiritual reality of the beast.

In his final piece of the series, "Four Leaf Clover" (acrylic on canvas), Lutz concludes that our beasts are integral to life’s experiences and can even become sources of enlightenment and wisdom if one gives up the fight and accepts them as part of his or her being.