Luke Waller is not just a pretty face. He’s pretty talented too, exploring the life of ‘Frank’ through painting, moving image, animation, graphic novels and installation.
Since graduating from LCC, Waller interned here at i-D while working on his continuing painted series entitled ‘Frank’s Wild Years’. The project has received international acclaim and was notably described as ‘very striking’, and ‘Hopper-esque’ by art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon. Alongside modelling for the likes of Paul Smith and Ozwald Boateng, he is also involved in film, photography and curation, most recently at SHOWstudio.com where his discerning eye for fashion, film and the human form was put to good use by its director Nick Knight.
Here Waller talks i-D online through his newest work now on show at SHOWstudio Shop.
Tell us about your new piece, Dancing in the Slaughterhouse… It depicts an exchange between an adulterous couple after a greasy-spoon breakfast. Neither one is better than the other after a night of infidelity. Like all my artwork, it is titled with borrowed lyrics from Tom Waits’ album, Frank’s Wild Years, I paint my life through Frank’s, and I paint Frank through collaged imagery from TV, film, photography and fashion. In this case Frank is personified by Robert De Niro’s character in Martin Scorsese’s film, Casino.
Is this the first time you’ve done a continuous narrative in your work, in a storyboard form? I’ve done it before but this is the first time it’s been so obvious. I usually work in triptychs. It plays on the idea of illustrated step-by-step guides that could be found in dance-halls past. They’d teach you the waltz or other dances using outlined figures with dotted paths of movement, which relates to the blurring in the pieces, something I’ve never done before.
What’s the significance of the Slaughterhouse? The gentleman, or snake, in the work is angry, both at himself and at the vixen that ensnared him. There’s a roller-coaster of emotions running around there titled with the contrast of dancing, a frivolous and fun act, within a slaughterhouse, an aggressive and bleak place.
How does it feel to be showing alongside so many established creatives? It’s a huge compliment to have been asked, very flattering.
What are your plans for the coming months? Continuing with the ‘Frank’s Wild Years’ series of paintings with the intention of exhibiting. I still have many scenarios to paint and to add to, this can go on for god knows how long and I’m enjoying the process. I’ve also got a solo show coming up.
Luke Waller is showing ‘Dancing in the Slaughterhouse’ as part of ‘The Café’ exhibition at SHOWstudio Shop, 1-9, Bruton Place, London, W1J 6LT, until November 5th, 2011.
Text: Aaron Walker
Portrait: Daniel Swallow