A California born contemporary artist changing the way art is perceived.
Through passion, honesty, and a willingness to share his work, Louis is one of today’s most influential and innovative contemporary artists. After being incarcerated in federal prison for drug related crimes, Louis found peace while illustrating his artistic road map through a cleansing of his soul and mind. That experience led to him overcoming addiction and immersing himself in art.
With a colorful past to draw on, his work is not merely modern art or street art but modernism told in a voice that drips onto the canvas … or the wall … or a jet. Having been commissioned by some of the most recognized venues throughout the United States including the SoHo House, Viper Room, to painting the Stanley Cup for the Championship team, the Chicago Blackhawks to raise money for Autism Speaks, his creations are immediately recognizable. Every stroke of the brush or the spray of the can has a story to tell. Louis’ work depicts a poetry seldom seen with an emphasis on creating pieces with meaning.
Recently commissioned to paint a private 12-seater jet in collaboration with Landmark Aviation for the famed Art Basel, Louis is continually reinforcing the essential power of art. His working studio in Los Angeles, The Drip Factory, is the quintessential landscape for Louis’ creations. Whether on a concrete wall somewhere in Los Angeles or the interior of a boutique hotel, Louis Carreon is an Artist that will continue to inspire.
LOUIS CARREON: OLD SAINTS, NEW SINNERS
– Shana Nys Dambrot
Golden auras, rings of halos, hands raised to signal virtue, daggers and crosses wielded in violence and sacrifice, crimson flowers, living skeletons, curling serpents. Somehow both pre-colonial and post-urban, Louis Carreon’s paintings combine a classical organization with a sophisticated tertiary palette with the fresh energy of raw gestural actions. It’s a heady, heavy mix -- too pensive to be Pop, too exciting to be conventional.
Along the armatures of compositional tableaux whose structural arrays resemble the religious art of the early Renaissance, Carreon engineers an archetypally modern-day story of tears, blood, sweat, urgency, and emotion. While the scenic balance grounds the canvases’ stately presence in a sense of order and balance, in the movement of paint, the thick skins of pigment, the exuberant rushes of color, the telling snippets of text, and the distressed, hand-worked surfaces are free to fully express the turmoil of existence at is actually is.
While not a religious person, lately Carreon has been reading biblical verses, intrigued by the operatic power of old scripture and the feelings imparted by the art history that it inspired. Stories of the Ethiopian origins of Rastafari and Bathsheba in Jerusalem. Paintings with titles like “Three Kings” and “The Preachers Are Lying.” Issues of righteousness and allegories of blasphemy, faith, and resurrection (something he knows a little bit about); figures like the devil, a mother and child, even a remix of “The Last Supper” called “The Trap Supper” in which gangster rappers played the familiar roles. The skeletons in “Anatomy of the Modern Us” are surrounded as if by ghosts with the text annotations, pieces of the lives that haunt the bones. Even without the titles, the works convey this aspect of homage in their staging and pointed symbolism.
“I’m a vandal at heart,” says Carreon, who started out as a tagger. “I’m a 40 year-old businessman -- but as an artist I’m still a kid.” He’s very much engaged in the question of his identity, his place in society and culture, and how to find peace in this world. If this looks like art that saved someone’s life, it’s because it has. His. Through two years in prison and ten years of sobriety, Carreon realized a few things about awareness, motivation, and intimacy. For him, the true power of art doesn’t lie entirely in how good you are at any given moment; you can always get better. Instead it’s about the intention and the truth and the willingness to be vulnerable, to be real, with yourself and with your audience.
While there are high-level brand collaborations like with ISOT, UBS, Art Basel, Denison Yachts, Soho House, Viper Room, the Stanley Cup, for Carreon, the question is always the same. When it’s time to mix the paints, shred the media, envision the scene, and breathe life into the stories on the wall, 14 hours a day, countless days in a row, absorbed in the zone of liminal, roiling spirits -- at those times the only question that remains is, Who are you painting for? “At least one part of that answer better be for yourself or you’re in trouble,” says Carreon. “I tell my fans on Instagram, the kids especially, ‘I paint for me. You should paint for yourself.’”
In the fusion of African and South American tribal and folk motifs, with the pictorial space of Old Masters and the scarified mark-making of punk-inflected modernism, Carreon has found a voice authentically his own, and uniquely suited to tell his multi-faceted journey of all-time highs, shadowy lows, and momentum towards reinvention. “This is the moment to use your privilege,” says artist Carreon. “It’s hard, but it feels good.” He means his own privilege, as an artist with a platform. But he also means every single human, every day.