Luke Hillestad’s Kitsch Paintings Offer Primal, Emotive Meditations

by Andy SmithPosted on


Kitsch painter Luke Hillestad, based in Minneapolis, tackles age-old narratives and a primal aesthetic in his works. He’s learned his craft from the likes of legendary figurative painter Odd Nerdum, who famously forged a movement that combined the way of the Old Masters with storytelling and emotion. A former land surveyor and classically trained guitarist, there are tinges of other influences in Hellstad’s work.



“Many of my most cathartic and educational moments were engaged in movies and video games,” Hillestad told WorldWideKitsch. “I learned more in the opening scene to the Disney movie Up than I did during an entire University course dedicated to metaphysics.”

The series “Anima” offers differing meditations in a series that shares its name with a Latin term for “breath” and Carl Jung’s descriptor for the subconscious inner female qualities of men. The former meaning offers an explanation for Hillestad’s subjects, which have a visual pulse and varying emotions.



The more primal, muted renderings in “Graven Image” offer more depictions of man and animal together, whether a snake wrapped around the neck of a woman or a wolf as a witness to figures draping a blanket over a likely lifeless body.

Hillestad’s currently part of a group show titled “Mythos” at Helikon Gallery in Denver, running through June 26. The exhibit’s theme is world mythology, with Hillestad joined by Adam S. Doyle, Elliot Lang, Cayce Goldberg, and others.

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