969 CHUNG KING ROAD
Gallery Hours: Wed – Sun 12pm – 5pm
MMXVII, Luke Butler’s second show with Charlie James Gallery, is an array of cultural landscapes and icons.
The exhibition features nine paintings of cinematic endings, dated from the venerable, anti-establishment era of 70’s film, and credited to L Butler Pictures. THE END, in various guises, is the predominant figure within these landscapes. Removed from its classical, narrative role, THE END is both familiar and strange. As a fixed, static image, it seems contradictory, absurd, and poignant- an anti-picture. Its message strays, becoming evocative rather than declarative, no longer a functioning exit, but a memento mori. THE END is supposed to happen once, but here it is a refrain, a toll of pop despair. We find it in the air amidst the swirl of branches, and floating over the ever-changing world of the ocean- in place and out of time. These paintings are constructions. While meant to look and feel like iconic cinematic imagery, they do not refer to any actual narrative. They are made from the trees and ocean around San Francisco, where the artist lives and works.
A crosscurrent in the show is a series of pencil drawings of the landscape of print, with emphasis on the authoritative New York Times obituaries of selected cinematic icons, recently departed, but alive forever in the firmament of cherished memory. The drawings describe the frailties of the printed page, which mirror the fleetingness of life itself.
Together, these series broaden Luke Butler’s continuing investigations into the peculiar vitality of popular culture. In looking back, he somehow finds himself in the present.