The artist and photographer Luke died. Samaras – Condolences from Lena Mendoni

At the age of 88 the great artist and Luke Samaras living in the United States left his last breath. The pioneering artist, the “man who was his own canvas”, as described by the New York Times died on Thursday (7.3.2024). His death was announced by the Pace Gallery, which organized 30 exhibitions with his works. Informing the artist’s death, Culture Minister Lina Mendoni made the following statement: “Luke Samaras, the “man who was his own canvas”, as described by the New York Times, was a pioneer artist, who won, with his multifaceted and constantly renewed work, global radiation. Artist concerned throughout his course, he constantly experimented with new tools and techniques, starting with painting and sculpture to quickly pass on to photography, for many years in its analog and last year and in its digital dimension, bringing it into a predominantly expressive passage. Samaras’ work looks autobiographical, as he focuses on his body, which is also the main object of his experiments. But Samaras goes a lot further. He starts by himself, whom he repositions, methonically and unrepresented, in the silence and the hum of the big city, of which he emerges as a visual anthropologist. The reception and settlement of the project in Greece has been relatively slow, but universal. I offer my sincere condolences to his people.” Luke Samaras was born on 14 September 1936 in Kastoria. In 1948 and at the age of 12 he emigrates with his mother Trygona Samara in New York to find Damian’s father, who had already emigrated to the United States since 1939. He was civilized by an American citizen in 1955. In 1951 he completes his basic education at Memorial High School. Between 1954 and 1959 he receives a scholarship and studies at the School of Fine Arts and Sciences of the University of Rutgers University, in the district of New Brunswick, New Jersey State, where he is acquainted with artists ‘Alan Caprov and George Sigal. He participates in exhibitions of the first and poses as a model in the works of the second. He is influenced by Claes Oldenburg, one of Pop Art’s creators who joins him, among others, artistically at the New Jersey School. Thanks to the grant he received from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation in 1959, Luke Samaras continued his studies in art history at Columbia University, New York. In 1961, she attends classes at the drama art school of actress Stella Adler. He then begins exhibiting his works collectively at various galleries. It first exhibits in New York in 1968, 1972 and 1977. His conversion from painting, sculpture, and engraving to photography becomes apparent then of his artistic course. His creations, usually in enclosed spaces, contain elements from his daily life. His “self-interviews” as he characterizes them are part of his personal “self-interrogation”, as if he wanted to express his feelings and make his own form of atonement. In 1972 he purchased his first Polaroid camera. In 1975, he discovers the properties of polaroid film dyes. He works on multimedia collage image compositions and transforms the shadows and shades of photographs with polaroid prints, to create what he calls “Phototransformations”. The use of himself by himself in his works is interpreted by him as “heave sighting”. In the late 1970s and 1980s, he continues to experiment with other materials in order to “colour” his works with colors, natural light, dead nature. Despite his initial attitude never to visit Greece, several of his works are inspired by maternal stimuli and childhood memories such as Byzantine icons and the “bad eye”. In recent years, Luke Samaras continued to create art using designer art, combining the supernatural with the real world of photography. Part of this technological development of his work is the production of small films with images and background music called “Photoflicks”.