‘The Art by Luke Chueh: Bearing the Unbearable’ book reviewPosted 7:28 pm on Friday, August 3rd, 2012 by Rocky Vy
Every generation has their group of artists- Picasso, Warhol, Polluck, Matisse, and the list just goes on. A list of individuals who were acclaimed by their peers and followers, as having the ability to provoke thought and inspire creativity through their works of art. And our generation can add Luke Chueh to that list (or I at least am adding him to my personal list of genius artists).
Chueh is noted as a pop surrealist, also known as low-brow artist.
Pop Surrealism defined is the fetishization of what Greenberg called kitsch. Pop bringing in the “low” media culture and Surrealism adding a Freudian kick to the underlying meaning of the object or image. – Henry Art Magazine
One of my favorite arists, Takashi Murakami, would also fall under the same classification. Maybe Asian people just have a knack for artfully criticizing today’s culture.
This book, the first that showcases Chueh’s work, chronologically gives its readers an overview of Chueh’s working career, including stunning printed pages of most of his artistic work. It includes an introduction from the owner of Los Angeles-based Gallery1988, Jensen Karp, who owes his gallery’s success to Luke Chueh. Also includes thoughtful letters from various figures, like Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy and Patrick Lam of designer toy company, Munky King, who detail memories of how they were influenced by Chueh. Their testimonials are so touching that I too feel like I’ve met Chueh through some transitive property of just reading their words.
After reading everyone’s recollection of their memories upon meeting Chueh, it seems that the artist, like most notable artists, led a troublesome life. How else could he depict such deep, dark, and relatable themes if he didn’t? He grew up in Philadelphia and Fresno, CA as a Chinese-American. Influenced by his childhood, his art is noted for its unique juxtaposition of both cute and saddening elements. He very simply depicts his point of view around our language’s figurative speech and culture’s ideas.
I Asked for Scrambled which was created for the Cannibal Flower third year anniversary show, is probably Chueh’s most prominent piece of work in the early stages of his career (and admittedly, my favorite). It’s a perfectly cute drawing of a chicken and flower, with a sick twist of cannibalism. The side-by-side cute and macabre elements are recurring throughout most of his work, and is what makes his art so intensely and visually gratifying for the viewers (Is it sick that I enjoy this painting so much? No no, of course not).
Folie á Deux (loosely translated as “madness of two” in French) was created for Fall Out Boy’s fifth studio album. Pete Wentz described the art as the contrast between the wild and ferel that lie within all of us, and the “peacefulness of our dreams” or our safety that we cling to.
Throughout the book, we learn more about Chueh and his art, but what stood out the most to me was when brother of Joel Madden (of Good Charlotte), Josh mentioned that Chueh was influenced by Mark Rothko. If you look up Rothko’s work, you can see a great deal of influence. Rothko’s eerie gradation and organic shapes are salient in Chueh’s paintings. But, if you ask for my opinion which I am sure you were going to anyway, Chueh’s work definitely has a lot more dimension in terms of idea (please don’t hate me Art Gods, for I understand that Rothko is a wonderful painter).
“I immediately felt connected to Luke for some reason. Happy-looking paintings, that were also very sad, which is a lot like how I see my music. It sounds like it’s supposed to be cute and happy, but there is a sad ironic theme in every song. Maybe it’s my outlook on life. Sad and ironic- wearing a smile.” – Joel Madden, Good Charlotte
If this article hasn’t convinced you to get the book, then I definitely have not given this book the honor it deserves. Look up his paintings and other works online, and you’ll see why Chueh is an artistic force to be recognized. Now, excuse me while I try to find $10,000 to dish out to buy one of his paintings.