Travis Louie: Before They Became Heroes or Villains
William Baczek Fine Arts, in Northampton, Mass. is proud to announce a solo exhibition of new paintings and drawings by Travis Louie. The show is titled Before They Became Heroes Or Villains and will be on exhibit from Wednesday, May 14 through June 29, 2014. The public is invited to an opening reception with the artist on Saturday, May 17 from 5 – 7 p.m. The exhibition will include approximately fifteen new paintings as well as related sketches and finished drawings.Often an artist’s exhibition is a presentation of new or recent art whose only unifying factor is that the same artist within a specific time frame did the work. Travis Louie exhibitions are created as a concept, much like the Beatles album Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band of Pink Floyd’s, Dark Side of the Moon. Travis Louie’s new show, Before They Became Good Or Evil is based around the concept of how various humans, creatures and hybrids appear as they are poised to change, either from benign, do-gooders or Heroes to darker more threatening beings, Villains. These characters are about to become Heroes or Villains through circumstances within or beyond their control. Take, for example Smoke which appears to be a Victorian photograph of a demure woman in a striped and ruffled dress. Her hair is swept up, not in a bun but it blurs and vanishes at the end much like a gentle wisp of smoke. The accompanying story which originates in Louie’s journal tells of a “certain young lady who after surviving a fire in 1893 developed a smoking problem”. But the problem was that her hair began to smolder and release smoke. She was no longer allowed in public buildings and eventually became a villain of sorts when she tried to take over a town and turn it into a sanctuary for smokers.Travis Louie’s imagery is grounded in Victorian and Edwardian times. Then, photography was a new invention and the long shutter speed often caused the sitter’s face or body to blur. But instead of being seen as a technical flaw or mistake they believed this was the sitter’s spirit or ghost. People had different beliefs then, snake potions could cure ailments and the world was more magical, harder to explain.Like all great art, Travis Louie’s work is not what the first impression appears to be. They look like black and white photographs but are precisely hand-painted using acrylics and graphite pencils and powders. Travis Louie’s characters can be misperceived as oddities but their “otherness” often suggests traits that we hold deep within ourselves. A first-generation American born in Queens, New York to Chinese parents the artist has first-hand knowledge to feeling outside the mainstream. His style of lowbrow or pop-surrealist art was for a long time perceived as lower tier but has now risen dramatically in perception, collectability, price and recognition. Travis Louie now has over sixteen thousand followers on Facebook; eleven thousand on Twitter and his work is avidly collected on both coasts and internationally.Travis Louie received his BFA in Communication Design from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. His book, Curiosities has recently sold out and is now out of print. The artist is currently working on his second book, which will feature some of the paintings from this exhibition. His work is in many important public and private collections and has been reproduced in numerous national publications.Selections from this exhibition and works by other gallery artists are available for viewing on the gallery’s web site at www.wbfinearts.com. For more information about this or upcoming exhibits please call the gallery at 413-587-9880 or e-mail at [email protected] The gallery is located at 36 Main St. in downtown Northampton, Mass. and is open Tuesday and Wednesday 10 – 5, Thursday – Saturday, 10 - 8 and Sundays from 12 – 5.