Art of the Week

Stanley Lewis (1941-)
O. C. Backyard, 1985
Oil on paper

Lewis draws and paints on- site what he sees, his own backyard, views of Lake Chautauqua where he teaches in summer, the Westport train station near his children’s homes, the hemlock tree out his window or the studio where he works. A modest feat yet endowed with incredible ambition- “It almost kills me!”

The proposition is a constant that all painting is abstract. A problem solver by his own admission, Lewis works for years on a drawing or painting attempting to grasp the detail, “the little things,” while holding on to the planes of the painting or surface of the drawing. In the current exhibition both the paintings and works on paper reveal his ambitious cut and assemble process as he marries the minute with the whole. The canvas is cut and added to, piled on layers of paper and canvas unified by an active painted surface. Similarly, the works on paper are multi-layered resulting in a bas relief as in Hemlock Trees Seen from Upstairs Window in the Snow, where the layers work both as cubist planes as well as single twigs.

His gloppy paint surfaces are aggressive and sensual though he differs in that he is much more involved with a direct naturalistic transcription of the casual, disheveled, white bread American subjects.  These he paints directly and laboriously on the spot, including everything in his field of vision, weeds, trash, cars, power lines, etc. Lewis is a master colorist. His unfailingly authoritative skill for painting real, rich and crystalline.

Stanley Lewis, or Stanley Lewis is an artist and art teacher. He was a member of the Bowery Gallery in New York City from 1986 to 2008 and is still a member of Oxbow Gallery in Northampton, Massachusetts. He is represented by Lohin Geduld Gallery in New York City. His work has been shown recently at Salander O’Reilly Galleries. An Emeritus professor from American University, Lewis also taught at the Kansas City Art Institute from 1969 to 1986, and currently teaches part-time at the New York Studio School. In addition, Lewis has taught at Smith College, and the Parsons School of Design. In 2001, he was Artist-in-Residence at Dartmouth College. Recent group exhibitions in 2009 include the American Academy of Arts & Letters Invitational; Haverford College and Gross-McCleaf Gallery, Pennsylvania. Lewis has been the recipient of many awards, including the Altman Prize, a Henry Ward Ranger Purchase Award from the National Academy of Design, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005. He was also a Danforth Fellow. There was a major retrospective of Lewis’ work at the American University Museum in the Katzen Arts Center in Washington, D.C. in 2007. He is a graduate of Wesleyan University and received both a BFA and an MFA from the Yale School of Art.

Professor Michael Bogin on Stanley Lewis:
Metaphor in painting; the struggle for a tradition. By: ROSENTHAL, Deborah. Arts Magazine, June 1978, Vol. 52, p136-141, 6p


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