March 4, 2013
Inspired by formal Victorian photography and Sideshow grotesqueries, American artist Travis Louie’s black and white paintings — exquisite acrylic washes over a graphite sketch — depict odd subjects with misshapen heads often sprouting horns, antennae or fezzes. Some characters resemble educated monkeys or well-dressed dogs and toads, others find their origins in the supernatural or the otherworldly. Disturbing, but never menacing, profoundly strange and always whimsical, Louie’s bizarre creatures look back at us across time and, apparently, another dimension, like long-forgotten and very peculiar ancestors.
Louie grew up loving comic books, Fifties “atom-age” horror and science fiction movies, German Expressionism and Film Noir, a rich variety of influences that inform his unusual and very personal art. Occasionally, a movie monster appears, like Godzilla, sporting a monocle or, here, a unique and unsettling portrait of the classic Frankenstein Monster. Curiously, while Louie’s characters often sport too many eyes, this version of The Monster has too few. In fact, dare I say it, Travis Louie’s Frankenstein is the portrait of a one-eyed monster.
Travis Louie’s website.
An interview with the artist.