I came upon the work of Travis Louie through an art blog, and his work really stuck me as being something quite singular. He takes what society might perceive as “freak show” figures, and gives them the dignity they deserve. His work also invokes a bygone period of stand-up box cameras and Civlil war-era poses, albeit with a slightly gothic twist.
Travis Louie is a New York (Queens)-based artist whose influences for his work are many: genre films, his fascination with human oddities, circus sideshows, old Vaudeville magic acts, Victorian portraits, and things otherworldly. They’re all blended together to enable him to bring life to these characters.
According to his website, his paintings come from the drawings and writings in his journals. He’s created his own imaginary world that is grounded in Victorian and Edwardian times. It is inhabited by human oddities, mythical beings, and otherworldly characters who appear to have had their formal portraits taken to mark their existence and place in society.
The underlining thread that connects all these characters is the unusual circumstances that shape who they were and how they lived. Some of their origins are a complete mystery while others are hinted at. Using inventive techniques of painting with acrylic washes and simple textures on smooth boards, Louie has created portraits from an alternate universe that seemingly may or may not have existed.
Art, or freak show oddities … beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Ladies and gentlemen, the art of Travis Louie.