Travis Louie Strange Discoveries and Doug Edge Let Me Explain

Two American artists showing in neighboring galleries in Los Angeles present unique views of color and of a fantastic world peopled by familiar, yet strange creatures.

Doug Edge: Let Me Explain

Artwork by Doug Edge Doug Edge’s most recent exhibit, Let Me Explain, shown at LAUNCH gallery, features a narrative of the artist’s transition from 3d to 2d work, as well as how a concept evolves through the artist’s work over the years.    Whereas most pieces in Doug Edge’s recent exhibit are new, many of them have been more than five decades in the making.  The unused plastic scraps from his work accumulated in a bucket over 50 years, with an occasional measure of leftover catalyzed resin thrown in above them.  In 1998, when the bucket was full, Edge sawed through the accumulated, partially-melted plastic and resin mass, revealing an intricate cross section of flowing shapes and colors, as Edge put it, “a new kind of imagery, molecular in detail.” He cut out slices of this resin, polished them to a sheen, and rearranged them into new works. This “accidental imagery” then served as a departure point for more paintings between 2008 and 2010.  Artwork by Doug Edge In 2013, he took high resolution scans of small areas of the slices and reproduced them on highly-polished plasticized panels.  The bright primary colors, polymorphous shapes, and slight transparence of the panels draw in the eye deeper to explore the meandering paths of color within the painting.  The artist’s humor is apparent in the titles “Snail’s Pace,” “Wei Wei Club,” and “Dust Devil.”  The exhibit spans twenty years of Doug Edge’s work, showing only a small fraction of works from a career that spans fifty years, from 1968 to 2013, and works that can be found in private and public collections, including LACMA, MOMA, and other museums.

Travis Louie: Strange Discoveries

Travis Louie "Ode to Helmet Girls"Another artist whose humor is apparent in the subjects and titles of his work, Travis Louie, showed his drawings and paintings of imaginary characters at the Merry Karnowsky Gallery.  Strange Discoveries presents Travis Louie’s latest collection of drawings and acrylic paintings depicting characters from his imaginary world.  Grounded in Victorian and Edwardian times, this world is inhabited by human oddities and mythical beings.  The dramatic “mood” in his paintings, produced primarily in black and white or limited color, is achieved through acrylic painting over tight graphite drawings on “plate” finish illustration board or finely sanded, primed wood panels; the juxtaposition of unusual attributes with human characters, presented in the form of formal, sepia-toned portraits all framed in dark, traditional ornate frames.  The realism of the paintings makes them feel like photographs, making them somehow familiar, more “realistic” creatures from our dreams that came to life enough to have their portrait taken . . .  During the late Edwardian and Victorian times, photography was increasingly becoming the means to document new discoveries, and depict reality, however “real” that was.  It is this curious blend of rationality and almost naïve willingness to believe what’s in a photograph that fascinates Louie. As he explains, “Photographs were new enough that people thought of them as verifiable proof, even though they could be altered by crude means during that developing process.”

Travis Louie "Mister Stevenson and Big Bug"The underlying thread connecting all these characters is the unusual circumstances that shaped who they were and how they lived, often hinted at in a small paragraph that accompanies the painting.  He creates alternate histories and wonderfully personal narratives for his works that are just as wonderful as the paintings. “The Helmet Girl” is one of my favorites! Travis Louie, born in Queens, New York, about a mile from the site of the 1964 World’s Fair, has grown up watching “Atomic Age” sci-fi and horror movies. Orson Welles, Robert Siodmak, Robert Aldrich, Jacque Tourneur, and Greg Toland are some of his favorite cinematographers whose work influenced his drawings. The influences for his work range from genre films, fascination with human oddities, circus sideshows, old vaudeville magic acts, to Victorian portraits, and things otherworldly.  He also loves 1950’s superhero, sci-fi memorabilia:  rocket ships, giant monsters, and all the creatures from Ray Harryhausen movies.  A graduate of Pratt Institute, Travis Louie has had his work shown in New York, Atlanta, Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Seattle, Paris, Berlin, and Rome.

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