Blue is for DepressionPainter Luke Chueh talks about his secret tool, the changing LA underground art scene, flying fucks and shitstorms.
By Blair Cooper
Apr 15, 2006 | Bing. A pink, one-legged bunny on crutches limps through the elevator doors. There’s a panel of buttons -- press “up” for hell. Elsewhere in the mind of Luke Chueh, the sky darkens as a bear opens the evening paper and gets comfortable on a toilet in the clouds.
It isn’t Chueh’s subject matter -- cute, colorful, cuddly animals -- that makes his work stand out. It’s how he depicts it. Adorable bears and bunnies are placed in violently unfortunate and woefully hilarious circumstances. The animals themselves are visually appealing and, perhaps more importantly, beyond the tick-boxes of gender, race, and class. The viewer, in turn, can easily empathize. This is the kind of connection that the painter appreciates in art and strives for in his own work.
For Chueh, the quirky English language is rife with inspiring vocabulary
and idiom. His five favorite words are “fuck,” “shit,”
“sardonic,” “esoteric,” and “forlorn.”
In fact, it’s next to impossible to write about his art without
using an oxymoron. But there’s a lot more behind a Chueh painting
than profanities and wordplay.
What inspires you these days?
I'm inspired by my personal experiences, pop culture versus geek culture versus street culture, and the artwork and accomplishments of my friends and contemporaries.
You appear to have an affinity for deep, moody, primary colors. There aren't very many greens or purples in your work; any reason?
I've created a tool I call “The Color Wheel of Doom.” In my color wheel, I've designated each color with a particular mood or action. Blue represents depression, green represents pestilence, red represents violence and bloodshed, and orange represents insanity. I've chosen yellow and purple to function as “wild” colors that can be used for any scenario I deem fit. However, I've found purple/violet to be a difficult and unsettling color to work with. I guess I simply haven't conceived of any purple ideas.
"The Color Wheel of Doom” sounds like one badass art supply.
I'm glad you get a kick out of it. Since my education is in graphic design, I learned about color theory and how people subconsciously react to color. It's something I definitely consider when approaching each painting.