Preview: Luke Cheuh “Random Acts of Sadness” @ CHG Circa, Culver CityJuxtapoz // Tuesday, 06 Aug 2013
On Saturday, August 10, CHG Circa presents “Random Acts of Sadness,” featuring the new paintings and sculpture of popular Los Angeles artist Luke Chueh.
The art of “Random Acts of Sadness” finds Chueh’s animal personas coping with his sad and tragic narratives. As the name of the show suggests, Chueh drew inspiration from whatever came to mind, from his childhood reflections, Asian heritage, personal recovery, and experiences as an artist. In his new work, Chueh’s creatures live in universal contrasts of adoration and atrocity, echoing a decade of his art. “Random Acts of Sadness” is probably one of my more truly introspective shows,” says Luke Chueh.
In the featured painting “Even a Monkey,” Chueh’s artist monkey draws a bear portrait, over and over, projected into an altered state of comic self-reflection. Chueh goes on to say, “One way you can read into the painting is my recognizing that anybody (even a monkey) can draw a cute sad character. However, the painting also declares that there has to be a reason why I’ve been able to do this for so long, and it’s because there is a lot more to my work than cute animal characters.” In the painting “Seppuku,” Chueh draws inspiration from his recent trip to Tokyo. His bear’s foreboding ritual suicide is seconded by a samurai-sword wielding caricature of himself. In “Target (Revisited),” a bear paints a symbol of its own doom against a bullet-riddled execution wall. Cuteness has become an endgame, caught in the enigma of a warped, iconic moment. “My paintings feature simple anthropomorphic characters and are driven by a dark, at times tragic, narrative,” says Chueh. Here, his benign characters find more sinister and comical fates, grounded by their stoical detachment - monkey, bear, and rabbit are cool under fire.
For “Random Acts of Sadness,” Cheuh’s “You Are What You Eat” series of paintings will profile ethnic culinary habits - specifically Chinese. “There are certain Chinese delicacies that I consider verging on barbaric, cruel way the animal is treated before being dispatched and eaten,” says Cheuh. “Ancient Chinese medicine used to believe that you literally were what you ate - if you wanted the libido of a tiger, you ate the penis of a tiger. The philosophy evolved into culinary tradition.” In “You Are What You Eat,” Chueh’s animals, on the plate and the canvas, illustrate his response to the consumption of animal magnetism, symbolized by Bear (Paw), Shark (Fin), and Tiger (Penis).
The 16 paintings and sculptures of “Random Acts of Sadness” will feature Luke Chueh’s familiar characters, experiencing the Chueh vein of narrative and style. An exhibition revealing his art’s natural evolution while retaining the elements he’s best known for. “I think my audience has been wanting to see a ‘classic’ Luke Chueh show, and with this, I am happy to oblige.”
The opening reception for “Random Acts of Sadness” takes place Saturday, August 10 at CHG Circa. The reception is open to the public, and the exhibition will be on view through September 7, 2013.