“And of these things beginning to come to pass, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21:28
For contemporary artist Louis Carreon, continuous individual evolution is something he’s known his entire life. Though today he focuses on reinventing the narrative of his art, Carreon keeps a steady eye on his tumultuous past. After overcoming a life of substance addiction and a sobering prison sentence for drug trafficking, Carreon emerged from the throes of darkness as a visionary artist, capturing the interest of the contemporary art community.
Despite his continuous growth and progress, redemption remains at the core of everything he creates. He credits his past adversities for inspiring this constant theme of redemption—a theme that has resonated with many of his clients and collectors.
In turn, his unconventional art has been known to challenge the ideology of most traditional gallery artists with themes of religion and spirituality all throughout his work. Despite a religious upbringing, it took his own personal rediscovery for Louis to redefine what religion and spirituality and meant to him.
“I seek through art the same as I seek through God everlasting life eternal. Unless you go back to God as a man, you only have what your parents have imparted to you as a child,” Carreon says. “I went against religion for a long time. At some point as a teen, religious becomes not cool, especially if you’re a rebel teen. But until you go deeper, you don’t understand it. The reason I say ‘religious iconography’ is because that’s what it’s been called for lifetimes. I feel like the word ‘religious’ itself is offensive and controversial.”
Today, his narrative explores the nuances and history of religious iconography and classical education. As each piece of art he creates pays homage to Byzantine-like periods, Carreon often marries his academically and historically inspired paintings with modernism and contemporary themes. Flirting with the master, he calls on many of the greats, including Peter Paul Rubens, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Jusepe de Ribera. Carreon has since completed scores of paintings that feature religious figures from Catholic saints to the Pope to Biblical characters sometimes with angelic halo-like shapes around their heads.
Each piece embodies the subtle essence the High Renaissance and Florentine art periods, yet with Carreon’s take on the modernization of these classics. He likens the rebirth, or reincarnation of his art to the foundation of hip-hop in the 1980’s. Just as rappers and hip-hop artists from the 80’s sampled music from the past to create chart-topping hits, Louis is reintroducing a previous culture of the classics of art through the construction of his work.
“I’m painting for the youth, for the future,” Carreon says. “Urban kids don’t know who Caravaggio is. You don’t know who Bernini is. Kids never learn about that. As time goes on, unless you go to museums, these artists will become irrelevant. I’m reintroducing and reeducating the younger generation with the classics by adding tools of the modern age.”
Looking ahead, Carreon has plans to take one of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s famed sculptures and reinvent the masterpiece with contemporary ideals. He will develop the sculpture through a collaborative experience and conceptual input from Dr. Ori Z Soltes, a professor at Georgetown University with expertise in biblical narratives and art history. For more information on Louis Carreon and his upcoming projects, visit his instagram page.