When my friend from college asked me to edit the statement for his work, I agreed. Having seen Mitch Lewis’ work for decades, I knew I could easily write about what his art is about, how he feels about creating it and how important it is to his existence:
Born in The Bronx, NY in 1947, Mitch Lewis’ involvement with art began with his father, whose sign painting, in addition to supplementing the family’s income, influenced his love of art .
Having attended public schools in New York City, Lewis worked toward BA and MA Degrees in Art at Hunter College of the City of New York, where he was inspired by the work of Abstract Expressionists/Minimalists, Ralph Humphrey, Robert Huot, Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, Adolf Gotlieb and Tony Smith.
During his college years, Lewis embraced hard-edge geometric paintings, eventually defying neat categorization into any one movement and developing his own ground rules of how his art is made and perceived. “My paintings are journeys through life,” he admits, “narratives that the viewer can enjoy and interpret.” “Still, they’re not unconstrained,” he continues. “Years of art training at Hunter taught me that!”
Lewis talks about the origins of his subject matter and the allegorical style, which is steeped in the biblical stories and Old Testament folklore he learned as a youth.
Although his paintings approach an intended moral and spiritual milieu, their implications exist only in terms of the language of expression. He distributes paint purposely, while bringing a vigor and expressiveness to each of his canvases. Powerfully intense, the forms, lines, shapes and colors are unexpected, surprising, sexy, fun and sometimes aggressive. “I look for spiritual insights to provide me with normality and a proper balance in life,” he states, adding that he’s not sure he’ll ever find them.
“I explore human sensuality and the relationship between men, women and the environment,” he continues. Events that have impacted his life – moving apartments and studios, marrying his wife Linda, siring and raising two children, the bombing of the World Trade Towers and its rebuilding, and seeing his first grandchild – are evident in the hieroglyphic quality of his work. He invites the viewer to decipher the message or to interpret the meaning of the painting according to his/her own sensibility. Colored borders around his paintings, which Lewis drew in the last several years, not only define the space but also the event. In some of his more recent works, Lewis shows his fascination with the energy of a circus. The idea may stem either from having studied Alexander Calder’s Abstraction-Creation series of the early 20th century or his grandchild’s kineticism. His raison d’être is the enjoyment of his artistic development.
Lewis has been exhibiting his paitings in New York City since completing graduate school. His work is in several collections in the U.S. and the U.K. From 2012 to the present his work has been represented by The Carter Burden Gallery in Chelsea New York.
For more information/images see mitchlewispaintings.com