Luke Butler

San Francisco-based artist Luke Butler paints still frames from the original Star Trek series, focusing on moments of heightened emotion, vulnerability, and latent homoerotic charge. Butler’s canvases approximate the size of old-school television screens, and he paints in acrylic, which further suggests the flatness of the TV screen. Isolating characters in otherworldly landscapes or against gray backgrounds, scenes take on intensified theatricality and new narrative possibilities. If Star Trek imagined a new world of humans and aliens serving together as part of Starfleet, Butler’s paintings re-imagine that world in ways that serve his own ideas and interests—in ways perhaps akin to slash fan fiction, which resists the compulsory heterosexuality of most mainstream television by rewriting plots to focus on relationships between characters of the same sex.
acrylic on canvas
24 x 28 in
Courtesy the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco. © Luke Butler