From the minute Luke Chueh first teased his new art book The Art of Luke Chueh: Bearing The Unbearable on Twitter a number of months ago, I knew I had to have it. So of course I jumped at the chance to review a promo copy of the book when the opportunity arose. The book is a retrospective of Luke’s carrier focusing on his first seven years of painting form 2003-2009, and I was blown away by how early into his career his vision seemed to fall into place. I seriously lost track of time as I flipped through all 160 pages, with each painting taking me back to the place where I first saw so many of these iconic images.
I have been a huge fan of Luke’s since well before I started blogging, and he’s quite possibly the only artist I’ve been too intimidated to talk to. I chalk that up to how impactful I find his art and the messages behind each piece. I can still remember heading over to Munky King’s San Diego Comic-Con booth back in 2009 (my only trip to SDCC so far) so I could meet him. Luke was there for the release of his Decapitated Bunny Head and all I could do was stand by and watch as he sketched and signed for fellow fans. Looking back on it now I guess you could say I was a little star struck.
Now I may be a bit biased, but this is one beautiful book. Luke teamed with Gallery 1988 and Titan Books to produce Bearing the Unbearable, and it’s really everything you’d want in a coffee table style art book. The cover is great, the binding is impeccable and each piece of Luke’s artwork pops off the page. I also really love that it's an oversized book (9.3"x12.5"), so that the paintings can be reproduced in a larger format. And fans will definitely want to read all of the quotes and interesting stories included throughout. Everyone involved did a fantastic job capturing the essence of Luke’s work.
I for one have never been able to understand some of the criticism that Luke is “just that emo bear guy.” Yes there are similar themes and images running throughout his art, but to focus solely on that seems to devalue Luke’s body of work. His ability to evoke emotion with such minimalistic imagery is amazing, and I love his use of empty space and thick black lines. If you’ve never taken the time to really study Luke’s art, here is the perfect opportunity. Pick up a copy of The Art of Luke Chueh: Bearing The Unbearable when it goes on sale next Tuesday, June 12th, in bookstores everywhere for $34.95 (or pre-order yourself a copy from Amazon for $22.83 here).
To celebrate this release of Luke’s new art book, he’ll be holding signings throughout Southern California over the next three weeks. The first is Saturday, June 9th, at Gallery 1988 (Melrose) from 1-4pm PST. For this signing, Gallery 1988 has put together a show featuring the original sketches for many of the paintings seen in the book from Luke’s first seven years of full time painting. Luke will also be at Nucleus Gallery (Alhambra) on Saturday, June 16th; Gallery 1988 (Venice) on Sunday, June 17th; and Giant Robot (West Los Angeles) on June 24th.