In Captain X, Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, played by William Shatner, is limply draped over a large boulder in what looks like a hostile alien environment. However, Kirk’s passive pose doesn’t so much suggest the aftermath of a battle as it does heavy contemplation, depression, or utter despair. Captain X is part of a series of paintings depicting various Star Trek characters who are stricken with human emotion-—a tactic that diminishes the mythological grandeur associated with this heroic captain and his indefatigable crew.
Luke Butler works with images of masculinity and power. He draws from popular culture to both reflect and challenge existing conceptions and values. Butler not only uses these images in a general way, he creates exact replicas or fabricates new fictitious pieces to resemble existing forms, like falsified transcriptions of George Washington’s letters, and faking his own obituary.