Michael Lewis: New Work
February 4 – 26, 2014
OPENING: February 6, 7–9 pm
My first “colouring books” were images of Moon Mullins and Mickey Mouse. They were copied from the Sunday funnies on brown butcher paper by my mother. I was one of those kids who did his damndest to stay within the lines.
No blue trees and red grass for me.
As I grew older, I started being envious of the furious scribblers who could work away, waiting for God’s ham sandwich to appear, or the fine draughtsmen who could paint an apple you wanted to eat.
I was no deep diver who came up for air with a gasp.
My images are not products of the spiritual realm, they are comics with no continuity, anti-animated post salon nostalgic slapstick. It was the discovery of George Grosz and William Gropper that taught me that rage can look like a political cartoon, delight can dress itself up like Batman – that you don’t need a diamond drill bit to strike oil, sometimes a paintbrush and pencil will do just fine.
Michael Lewis was born in Sayre, Oklahoma in 1947. He works chiefly in oil on canvas. Initially, Lewis’ subject matter related to working in the local emergency shelter: homelessness, mental illness, prostitution, street- and media-promoted violence, drug and alcohol addiction. Later he became more introspective, using childhood memories, adult experiences, and dreams. Currently, his work is becoming more traditional: the still life, landscape, nude, and portrait.
Lewis’ influences have been everything from comic books to crime movies. Raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, he tends to see the world around him in sideshow, neon colours, populated mostly by baggy-pants clowns, chorus girls, and fat ring masters with whips.
No matter the subject, Michael Lewis’ one and only theme has always been loneliness: the walls that divide us from one another, our surroundings, and ultimately ourselves.