Travis Louie: Painting a World of His Own

The lines which separate the dream from the waking state, the real from the unreal, and the self identity from alters are within, almost always overlap with each other. This overlapping results in myriad colours of thoughts, perceptions, dreams, and even experiences. Many believe, a person is never just one person and within himself or herself lie many different people, each with a story of their own to tell.

These may be dubbed alters and dismissed, but then again, these are just as real as the so called real person is. Imaginary friends, imaginary enemies, unreal situations all make up a world that is far removed from the imposed reality and they carve out a reality for themselves that is hidden deep within the mind. All these alters may sometimes be connected by a singular thread of need, which is never fulfilled at the conscious level.

The imposed reality thus takes a beating when such personalities are revealed and created in a world of art and paintings, or even in the stories one spins. Travis Louie is a New York based painter who dwells in an imaginary world he has created for himself. His paintings are dominated by Victorian and Edwardian themes but only, the characters seem less human and more simian.

The characters seem to mock at the imposed reality while at the same time seeking and asserting their existence in that reality. While each of the characters has a story of their own, Travis Louie writes witty and charming commentaries about them. In fact, without these characters, the life he has “created” for himself would be disastrously empty.

Sometimes, the characters in his portraits seem to be begging for a place in the imposed reality by way of being painted. These characters are just as real as Travis might be, but only they exist in his mind, and perhaps in the portraits themselves. Travis is influenced by German Expressionist and Film Noir techniques and in order to create a dramatic effect, he rarely uses much colour and the paintings are dominated by various hues of black, white or dull shades.

Travis uses acrylic paintings over his graphite drawings in order to achieve that minimalist but surreal imagery which leaves the viewer wondering about the life of the imaginary character in the painting. Odd human figures, primates that seem to have a human-like life, anthropomorphic figures, and alien like creatures dominate his portraits and through these portraits, beings that exist only in his mind seek a place out in the world, and thus assert their individual presences.The convincing portraits force the viewer to question the non existence of these odd beings in the so-called reality.

Imposition of supposed social reality results in other characters asserting their existence in a way that is acceptable to the imposers through paintings. When not painting, Travis spends his time writing Journals and taking part in various exhibitions. His journals contain stories that involve the characters painted in his portraits and all seem to exist in a sort of surreal and incomprehensible bonhomie.

Travis Louie’s work can be purchased at his official site.

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