Have you ever walked in late to a movie? The lights are down, the opening credits have rolled, and for the duration you are convinced that you’ve missed something vital. Luke Butler’s series of paintings The End provokes a similar feeling, but fast-forwards the narrative to the final frame of the movie. In The End XIV, a clutch of branches floats over a sky-blue field, all serving as a backdrop to the cinematic proclamation of THE END at the center of the composition. The painting presents the question: the end of what?
Butler mines our shared vocabulary of popular culture references for the timeless and the enduring. In painting scenes from old episodes of Star Trek, for example, the painter finds classical narratives of tragedy and triumph. In painting THE END in seemingly endless variation, Butler asks us to consider the structure of popular film in relationship to our everyday experience. Yes, the end of this story has arrived, but a fresh one—perhaps even a sequel—remains on the horizon. Butler’s paintings act as a screen where we project our desire for a coherent narrative in films, paintings, and our lives.