A new exhibit showcasing Victorian-influenced photographs.
Travis Louie: Strange DiscoveriesMerry Karnowsky Gallery (170 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA) Map it Free
I've always thought of the Victorian era as an age of discovery. As there was almost a second "Industrial Revolution" sometime between 1840 and 1870, many new things were invented and discovered. While all manner of steam driven machines, boats, trains, etc, . . . were allowing for great transitions in industry, I am still fascinated most by early photography. Often to mark the existence of new species and the recording of important events, 19th century photography became the great equalizer. Photographs were new enough that people thought of them as verifiable proof even though they could be altered by crude means during the developing process. I think of "spirit photography" and the wonderful hoax put on by Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths in 1917 where they claimed to have taken actual photographs of fairies.
I painted these images to look like old photographic portraits, as a sort of "proof" that the accompanying stories may or may not have happened. These paintings are mostly about people making strange discoveries; a primate is found in South America that can act and is brought back to perform on the West End stage, a man finds an incredibly large bug attached to his house, a woman is convinced that an unusual helmet can protect her from harmful thoughts, an entomologist makes a startling discovery when he finds strange moth in his house, . . .
An odd thing for me about this show is that I believe these paintings are tighter than any I've done before and I always get anxious thinking that maybe I'm the only one that notices this. The paintings are mostly transparent layers of acrylic paint applied to smooth grounds over a light, but very finished graphite drawing.
These paintings are dedicated to my father who passed away in April. He was a dreamer who never got to fulfill his dreams. He made it possible for me to work on mine and for that I am eternally thankful.