Driven by a fascination and respect for animals and people from all walks of life, Louie finds inspiration in the anthropomorphic characters of J.J. Grandville’s printed series Les Métamorphoses du jour, Honoré Daumier’s socially conscious lithographs, and Beatrix Potter’s 19th century illustrations, including the well-known Peter Rabbit. Inventing animal-hybrid personas, Louie also writes a personal history for each character to fortify their existence beyond purely visual documentation. Louie’s careful technique lends even his most fantastical characters an air of authenticity and decency. By painstakingly applying acrylic paint in transparent layers like watercolors, the artist masterfully recreates the gelatin-silver feel of early daguerreotype photographs.
Louie’s vast interest in forgotten and discarded photography materializes his thoughts and curiosities into sketches and stories written in his journal. By transforming these writings into imagery, Louie has an incredible way of enchanting an audience into seeing and believing in the existence of his whimsically concocted creations. Where we might expect a stoic portrait of an ancestor, we’re met with the head of a bearded cheetah and the body of a man in Charles “Cheetah Chops” Nelson. Mr. Nelson (an herbalist, biologist, comparative anatomist, and paleontologist who immigrated to Northern California)
stands confidently in his three-piece suit, hands in pockets with a combed center-part coiffure and a fixed gaze into the distance.
“I imagine these characters coming here from many different backgrounds and having to create a life for themselves during the latter half of the 19th century into the 20th century. . . in an America that is experiencing the gold rush, coming out of the civil war, peoples coming here to escape troubles from their homeland, or expansion into the West following the suggestion of Horace Greeley's editorial in the New York Tribune in 1865.”
Through meticulously painted details, Louie transports us into a world so engaging and vivid that we would rather believe in it than question its veracity. We are left with the impression that if we dig deep enough into that bin of discarded photographs at the flea market, we just might chance upon the kind of charming oddities featured in Louie’s meticulous paintings.
- - -
Travis Louie originates from Queens, New York. He graduated from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, hoping to pursue Illustration. As the path of freelance art began to unravel and favor his work, he started exhibiting and travelling the world, sharing his visions and depictions with the public. Throughout his career, he has had the pleasure of displaying his work in several art-renowned countries and cities, such as Germany, Paris, Rome, New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle. His charming personifications will be on display at KP Projects Gallery until the end of November