Bay Area artist Luke Butler paints THE END as a figure in a landscape. Removed from its narrative role, it is both familiar and strange. As a fixed, static image, it seems contradictory, absurd, and poignant- an anti-picture. Its message strays, becoming evocative rather than declarative, no longer an exit, but a memento mori.
If THE END turns the actual landscape legendary and evanescent, Luke’s other works draw humanity out of iconic television figures. They emphasize vulnerability, sorrow, ambiguity- things more common outside the tidy world of televised narrative. In paint, on canvas, frozen in mid-gesture, men of action become figures of pathos. They have somewhat the appearance of religious painting. Television was an indelible and impactful presence in Luke’s young life. Insinuating its legendary figures into a larger picture of mythology is one way for him to see beyond its frame.
Shown together, these two series complement each other, and broaden Luke’s continuing investigations into the peculiar reality of popular culture. Inherently disposable, it is all but inseparable from our lives, and is a genuine point of connection with other people. Luke’s work borrows its universal language and bends it toward subjectivity- to anxiety, masculinity, mortality, and a lifelong fascination with the figures that tell the stories.
Luke Butler (b. 1971) received his MFA from CCA in 2008. He has held solo exhibitions in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and has been included in numerous group shows, most notably at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and the 2010 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art. His work is part of numerous collections, including the Norton Museum, West Palm Beach. Butler currently lives and works in San Francisco, CA.
Luke Butler is represented by Jessica Silverman Gallery in San Francisco, CA.