The Gay Gallery: Luke Arnold #19.07
Hello, Lovers! If there’s one thing Impy loves it’s putting a little (or a lot) of cheek into life and if you’ve had a squiz peek of our new rooftop bohemia, you would no doubt have noticed the cheeky collection of artwork residing on the walls of Imperial UP, thanks to the man with 4 first names: Luke John Matthew Arnold. (Yeah… we’re jealous too) We were lucky enough to have a little chit-chat about his work…
Your style is very distinctive. How did it develop and come to be?
My work was originally about me finding comfort with my own sexuality as a young guy from the Sutherland Shire and proving to myself that exploring and connecting with queer and camp aesthetic, as well as referencing sex and sexualities, was totally cool.
The concept was super nerve-racking for me so I learnt to draw very quickly before I lost my confidence in what I was drawing about, so I was never precious about how I drew something and was more focused on pop colour choices and the composition of the whole image.
I also obsess over phrases and words I was either called or heard out and about, which becomes a starting point for a drawing. So I hear a phrase and I treat it like a meal you want to cook and sit there and visualise all the ingredients that may make a ‘Bloody Battler’ or a ‘Cheeky Little Shit’ for example and draw them all out.
What inspired this collection of work and what statement does it aim to say?
The ‘Moist/Dick City’ series was about celebrating the diversity and fluidity of genders, sex and sexualities. I always choose bright pop colours because I want the subject matter to be explored with a joyful, confident aesthetic.
‘Busted’ is simply about loving yourself and exploring yourself. Recognising what makes you feel good and what makes you ‘you’.
Who are your biggest creative influences?
My first biggest influence would have to be Keith Haring, for his pop colour and flat aesthetic, as well as creating work and a voice around LGBTQIA+ issues at the time.
Secondly would be Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori for her bold colour choices and her freedom in her expression inspires me.
Lastly, I love how Tracy Emin uses crass and autobiographical words in her art, in an unforgiving, no shits given sort of way.
How does your work comment on current social and/or political issues?
My artworks focused on the marriage equality debate are probably my most political works. I never want to put work out there that is aggressive to any community, no matter their beliefs, but I want my work to comment in a positive, celebratory and unifying way. Similar to my ‘change the date’ illustration, I create these images to give people a visual resource to positively show their support and beliefs.
A majority of my other work is simply about creating a visual presence for communities that aren’t the majority or who feel they don’t fit in.
Why do you think art is important in this day and age?
I think art can be a therapeutic process and for me it allowed me to engage with a community I was so afraid of engaging with. It was my ticket in, even if I was hiding behind a mixed bag of dicks, boobs, watermelon and rainbows. It got me through.
Art also gives a voice to those who feel unheard or socially pushed aside. It lets people represent their beliefs and to feel empowered through visual representation.
If you could have lunch with one person (alive or extinct) who would it be and why?
As I write this I’m dying of strep throat and my Nan used to make this killer mushy biscuit meal for me when I was sick, but alas she took the recipe to her grave. So I’d get her popped up and outta her box to teach me how to make it and we could chat about important things like budgies and why she believed Julie Andrews was top dog and Judy Garland was a ‘hack’. I’m painting a bad picture of my Nan. She was incredibly giving and sweet to everyone. Except Judy.
Luke’s collection will be on display at Imperial UP until the end of August, after which another LGBTIQA+ artist will get the opportunity to showcase their work for two months.
Visit Luke’s website
Follow Luke on Instagram
We LOVE supporting queer creatives, so if you’d like your work showcased at Imperial UP get it touch!