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Travis Louie Paints Old-Timey Alien Characters in “Watch the Skies”

There was a resurgence of interest in UFOs and extraterrestrials in the 1970s after Swiss author Erich Von Daniken wrote "Chariots of The Gods." Travis Louie (HF Vol. 32 cover artist) grew up in that environment, and once thought of aliens as the ultimate immigrants. For his new body of work, "Watch the Skies", which debuts tonight at KP Projects/MKG in Los Angeles, Louie incorporates aliens into his cast of creature portraits. His monochromatic acrylic paintings have been likened to bizarre snapshots of monsters, to the effect of old-timey photographs from the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Though Louie has a longtime fascination with atomic-age science fiction, his aliens represent more than just a fantasy.

There was a resurgence of interest in UFOs and extraterrestrials in the 1970s after Swiss author Erich Von Daniken wrote “Chariots of The Gods.” Travis Louie (HF Vol. 32 cover artist) grew up in that environment, and once thought of aliens as the ultimate immigrants. For his new body of work, “Watch the Skies”, which debuts tonight at KP Projects/MKG in Los Angeles, Louie incorporates aliens into his cast of creature portraits. His monochromatic acrylic paintings have been likened to bizarre snapshots of monsters, to the effect of old-timey photographs from the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Though Louie has a longtime fascination with atomic-age science fiction, his aliens represent more than just a fantasy. “My work is a continuing conversation that started as a veiled commentary about the immigrant experience. Originally the paintings were portraits of mythical beings and curious characters who come from unusual circumstances,” he says. These include characters like “Clara”, who worries about wearing her antenna on straight, and “The Mysterious Harry Waxman”, a spidery visitor from another world who decided to live out his life on Earth. “No one knows for certain why [aliens] come here, and theorists have come up with all sorts of ideas that range from evil intentions to beneficial ones. I like to think they just come here to look around.”

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Travis Louie’s creatures carry Victorian and Edwardian vibes, rendered in the artist’s distinctive, fantastical style. A show at Creatura House, the new Seattle venue from Roq La Rue Gallery founder Kirsten Anderson, collects a new set of paintings and drawings from the artist. Louie was last mentioned on HiFructose.com here. He and artist Travis Lampe also recently created the art for the card throwing/tile game Vampires vs. Unicorns: Floor War, constructed by game designer Jim DuBois and Hi-Fructose co-founder Attaboy.
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Through a unique process of applying thin, translucent layers of monochromatic, acrylic paint to a panel over and over, Travis Louie (HF Vol. 32 cover artist) mimics the effect of 19th-century photography. Though filled with fantastical characters, his works have an effect of verisimilitude much like historical documents from the Victorian and Edwardian periods. For his latest solo show, "Archive of Lost Species," which opens at Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle on May 7, Louie abandons the studio portrait format we've seen before. Instead, his latests works look like snapshots of strange monsters, sometimes observed in the wild and sometimes interacting with their human counterparts.
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