Pornographic or not, there’s lots to argue about with art

Armchair Mayor
By Mel Rothenburger
January 27, 2017 - 2:00pm

KAMLOOPS — For something that’s supposed to enrich our lives, art can sure be a divisive thing. Call something art, and someone will disagree. Call something pornographic art, and someone will leap to its defense. Lots of people, as it turns out.

In Wednesday’s editorial, I referred to a couple of paintings by Atilla Richard Lucacs — currently part of an exhibit at the Kamloops Art Gallery — as pornography.

For this, I have been taken to task.


(Fact check: I’ve never lived on the Prairies and can’t comment on whether people who do are Puritans.)


And on it went, some of it fairly nasty. When you’ve been on the soapbox as long as I have, you get used to it. It’s common for those who disagree with an opinion to attack the person who’s expressing it, rather than argue its merits. Just ask Donald Trump.

It’s worth pointing out, though, that I’m not the first one to refer to paintings by Lucacs as pornographic.

He’s quoted by in an interview as saying some of his references for his paintings have come from pornographic magazines he found in the bookshops of Berlin. “They were dirty, very dirty, scatological, heavy on fetishes, very hard core and they were fascinating. I wasn’t directly using the paintings or the photographs but taking some part of them and collaging them into my paintings.”

So, sorry to all those who insist that Lucacs paintings aren’t pornographic, but maybe you should take it up with the artist.

There’s still plenty to disagree on, though. We can argue whether his paintings are well-done pornography, whether they have a place in the current exhibit or in the art gallery at all, and whether they have artistic merit, or — as I said in the opening sentence of my first editorial — debate the very definition of art.  Or, if you prefer, we can talk about cave paintings.

I will argue that some of the junk that’s called art isn’t deserving of the name, and others can argue I obviously know nothing about art. These are disagreements without resolution, but worthwhile and interesting if one sticks to the point.

Mel Rothenburger blogs at and can be contacted at [email protected].