The Art of Luke Chueh: Bearing The Unbearable Book Review

“Truly a special artist.” “Genius.” “His imagery is becoming iconic.” “Painfully brilliant.”

These have all been terms to describe California based artist Luke Chueh. Releasing June 12th from Titan Books in collaboration with Gallery1988 is The Art of Luke Chueh: Bearing the Unbearable. Chueh may be unfamiliar name to the households of America, but his work has earned him critical acclaim in art circles around the globe and has already been felt in the music industry when in 2008, he was summoned by Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy to do the cover art for their album Folie à Deux.

The books follows Chueh’s humble beginnings in 2003 when at an LA art party, he survived a drive by shooting in an unbelievable story that seems fit for the silver screen, but actually happened. One can only wonder if it was reminiscent of a scene in Pulp Fiction where the shooter misses Vincent and Jules at point blank range. Though his paintings may initially point otherwise, Luke Chueh isn’t a one trick pony artist, having had his designs successfully created into a series of vinyl toys by Munky King, the collaborative “Vivisect” playset, and some limited edition skateboard decks. Make no mistake, those in the know in the art world know Luke Chueh.

What’s great about the art is that behind the cuteness of fuzzy teddy bears, there lurks sadness, gory mayhem, indignation and various atrocities against animals, but it’s so ridiculously clever that it’s impossible not to smile. He has so many fantastic paintings that I guarantee anyone can see themselves in at least one. Chueh says he chose the bear as his character because of a series of embarrassing situations that led to him being referred to as “bear” or “panda.”

(Frank: Luke Chueh vs Donnie Darko)

Chueh has an interesting relationship with Joel and Josh Madden of the punk band Good Charlotte that’s highlighted by a brief essay of how the brothers came into contact with the artwork and how it changed their lives. They claim to have a whole gallery in their home dedicated strictly to him. There are retrospective interviews with art gallery owners who have put on shows with Chueh who describe him as “hilarious” and “immensely inspiring.” Actually, there’s not a bad word spoken about him.

(It takes more than a jumpsuit (and nunchakas)

The book is masterfully done with hundreds of crystal clear images in the book’s nearly 200 pages of artwork, anecdotes, and stories from the individuals that have been affected by his paintings or his persona in some way. This is Luke Chueh’s first book, and I don’t think it’s ass-kissing to say it’s eagerly anticipated. There’s no way to flip through these images and not be inspired as an artist or creative individual. This is a book that’s going to stay on my coffee table for a long time.

If you’d like to learn more about Luke Chueh and his art, you can check out his personal website here and his new blog where he has sketches, previews paintings, information on where you can find him, and other interesting tidbits here.

The Art of Luke Chueh: Bearing the Unbearable will be available in fine bookstores everywhere June 12th.

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