Luke Chueh
Interview (February 2006)
by Joshua Petker

Joshua Petker: Tell me about your work.

Luke Chueh: My work was initially inspired by the art featured in "Art Alternatives" and "Juxtapoz" magazines. I guess I also found inspiration in the comic books and anime I grew up with. Conceptually, I try to employ a distinct balance between light and dark themes, illustrating personal issues by reinterpreting universal archetypes.

JP: Any specific reason you chose the animals you chose to include in your work?

LC: I came up with this philosophy behind my decision to use animals:
If I replaced my bears and bunnies with asian males or caucasian females, I would most likely alienate portions of my audience. I feel that animal characters transcend race and sex, helping me create a more universal message.
At the same time though, I think it simply looks cool… which is reason enough.

JP: How would you classify your work?  Illustration paintings?  And what is your process like using both paint and ink?

LC: I came up with a name for the genre my work and the work of my contemporaries falls in. I call it "Post-Brow" (as in "After" Low-Brow). The reason why I kept the "Brow" from "Low-Brow" is because my work still contains several Low-Brow-isms such as its character driven / illustrative qualities, sense of humor, and sardonic counter-culture attitude. However, my work lacks a distinct, essential, white trash (i.e. hotrods, pin striping, & Rat Fink) and b-culture (i.e. b-movies, specificly of the horror genre) elements. These are the elements that truly makes "Low-Brow" low. When you think about it, I think it makes sense.
As for my process, it usually starts in the sketchbook. Once I come up with an idea and sketch that I like, it's then enlarged and transferred to board or canvas. I prime my board/canvas with black gesso and use acrylic paints, working dark to light and I finish up with indian ink, scrawling out the line work.

JP: For what reason to you accredit the use of illustration and human/animals in contemporary art as a common and descriptive element in a lot of the work currently produced in the genre?

LC: I honestly don't know if I could answer that question. I know the reasons why I do what I do, but as for other artists, I have no idea. Perhaps this current shift toward illustration is simply a product of pop culture and mass media.
If you ask me, I think that there's very little "modern", "conceptual" and "contemporary" art being produced today that's worth a damn [especially modern day Color Field painters or Abstract Expressionists]. Back in the day, abstract art really rattled the foundation of the art world, challenging audiences, and demanding them to redefine their definition of art and communication. Since then though, it's been accepted and incorporated. The idea that people are still creating it seems pointless.
Maybe current audiences simply want to see art they can connect to or identify with. Illustration simply gets the job done. Hell, just because our world is crazy, abstract, and challenging doesn't mean our art has to be to be too.

JP: How do you imagine the development of Luke Chueh?  What will a Luke Chueh painting look like when you paint one in 2009?

LC: I wish I could say that I knew where my work was going, but I only hope it will truly evolve with time and experience. The way I see it, as long as I avoid being constricted by fear and money (i.e., not allow myself to be dictated by the demands of my audience and galleries) then my chances of evolving into a better artist are sound. Of course, only time will tell.
To be Honest, my personal development and evolution are things very conscience of and concerned about.

JP: What is your favorite piece you've made thus far and why?

LC: I think my favorite painting so far has got to be "The Alchemist". In terms of concept and execution, I think I really nailed it. I also feel a personal connection to 'The Alchemist" in that, there are times when I feel that the alchemist is me.

JP: What else is coming up for you in the future artistically?

LC: Later this spring, the Los Angeles based Munky King and I will be releasing our first toy, inspired by my painting, "POSSESSED". Throughout the year, i'll be participating in random group art shows around America, and then in July I've got a solo show at Copro/Nason Gallery in Bergamot Station, Santa Monica. The working title for that show is"Lonely is an Eye-Whore", but that's subject change. At the end of the year, Gallery 1988 will be hosting the third installment of "THE VIVISECT PLAYSET", a show I've been curating for the past two years. The shows have been featuring artists who regularly employ animal characters to illustrate the human condition.

JP: Describe for me the best day ever imaginable in the city of angels?

LC: This might sound kinda geeky or lame, but at the moment, my best day in LA would start with me waking up, checking my email (which would be spam free) and conceiving an idea for a painting that I'd be really really excited about. I'd spend most of the day working on it, and with each stroke of the brush, my enthusiasm would grow. Come evening, I'd meet up with friends and have a kick ass dinner (sushi). We'd go to some art shows and the featured artwork would be absolutely mind blowing. This would fuel my enthusiasm for the unfinished painting waiting for me at home. Meanwhile, I'd meet the girl of my dreams (our feeling's would be mutual) and after hobnobbing with the best, I'll finally make my way home and do a little more work on my painting. Eventually I'll call it a night, watch some television (Adult Swim), and hit the hay.

JP: Do you have a good story about cats to share?

LC: Nope. Can't say I do.