Cool Hand Luke
Friday, March 26, 2004

As we've all long suspected, there's a dark underbelly to the whole super-cute Asian-style toy-animal culture.

Artist Luke Chueh has made it his business to expose it. An exhibit of his paintings, which opens tonight at the Black Market L.A. gallery, on Sawtelle, is called "Sad Paintings for Happy People," and it takes only a moment to see why. Portraying adorable bunnies, kitties, monkeys, and other Sanrio-esque creatures in myriad sinister or deeply ironic situations, it is like a window onto the alleyways and nefarious after-hours doings of Pokemon and his ilk. And rather than being a critique, it manages to celebrate as it subverts.

Which should reassure you as you're going "Awwww" while looking at a chicken staring at a plate of eggs sunny side up.On view through April 23 at Black Market L.A., 2023 Sawtelle Boulevard, between La Grange and Mississippi Avenues (310-966-1555). To view Chueh's work, go to www.lukechueh.com