Luke Chueh is a Chinese-American painter, illustrator, and designer who blends pop culture references with Surrealist aesthetics in his playful but macabre work. After beginning his career as an award-winning designer for Ernie Ball, Chueh gradually worked his way into painting after moving to Los Angeles in 2003. His work generally features cute, anthropomorphic animal characters in unfortunate or violent situations, as in Wrestling (with Myself) – Headlock (2019). Employing a graphic style, neutral backgrounds, and a limited colour palette, the artist focuses on the misfortunes of his subjects, often a bear that has become Chueh’s signature character and functions as something of an avatar for the artist himself. He uses his artwork to express his ideas about the darker side of life, including reflecting on his experiences with addiction. Chueh’s work also incorporates frequent references to popular icons appropriated from television, video games, and music, while his own characters have been turned into a popular series of collectible vinyl figurines.
Life has a strange sense of humor. Sometimes you’ll get professionally stranded, in search for a job, and you’ll maybe start painting as a hobby, nothing more than a way to fill all that free time. Luke Chueh had a promising career as a designer when he decided to move to Los Angeles. However, he failed to get a job there and started painting instead. He was invited to show his works at Cannibal Flower, an LA based underground art show. Now he’s an established artist, who bases his work on his own personal experiences.The best way to describe Chueh’s art is to say it causes mixed feelings, as the viewers are undoubtedly amused but also feel bad for the characters. A minimal color scheme, a simple animal character, and an endless list of ridiculous and ill-fated situations – that is something the artist is famous for. He describes his style as Post-Brow, admitting that it has some similarities with Low-Brow, such as illustrative qualities, a sense of humor, and counter-culture attitude, but it lacks that distinctive white trash factor, the element that makes the Low-Brow low.