I think they will be my best paintings if I can finish them. That is the problem. To do my BEST means I go very slowly and try to get everything as good as I can before I move on – I always have to re-do everything almost 100 times. Very slow progress. I think this is the right way for me to go. Also, when it is all done it might not work. This is a horrible possibility.
~ Letter from Lewis to Gallery, 2015
Betty Cuningham Gallery is pleased to open an exhibition of new work by Stanley Lewis. This will be the artist’s third show with the Gallery, located at 15 Rivington Street. The artist will be present for an opening reception on Friday, October 19 from 6-8 PM.
The exhibition features 9 paintings and 2 works on paper all completed recently. A problem solver by his own admission, Lewis works on a painting or drawing for months, if not years, struggling to grasp the detail, “the little things.” He paints on-site; therefore, his subjects are wherever Lewis finds himself: his studio, his backyard, the Westport train station or places he visits, abroad and nearby. It is a modest feat yet one endowed with incredible ambition. “It almost kills me!,” he claims. His method is complex, including hours of editing: the canvas is cut and rejoined, piled with layers of paper and canvas, unified by an active painted surface and single image.
The painting, Family Group, 2014-2018 is a departure for Lewis. Here he portrays a portrait of his family, a complex composition of 9 figures. Rather than working from life (that is, on-site), he works from a series of photographs that he has collaged together. This collaged view is realized on the canvas again with the same cut-and-assemble method that he employs in his landscapes.
Lewis’ ambitious cut-and-assemble process is also evident in his works on paper. In Looking at Our House, 2016 and View from the Back Door of My Studio, 2017, the layers work both as cubist planes as well as single blades of grass.
Stanley Lewis was born in Somerville, NJ in 1941. He received a BA from Wesleyan University in 1963 and an MFA from Yale University in 1967 as a Danforth Fellow. Throughout his career, Lewis has held posts as teacher and critic at various institutions including Kansas City Art Institute, Smith College, and American University. In 2005, Lewis received a Guggenheim Fellowship and in 2015 he received an Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work can be found in numerous public collections including the National Academy Museum, New York, NY; Hollins University Gallery, Roanoke, VA; the Collections of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY; and the Watkins Collection at American University, Washington, DC, among others. In 2007, the Katzen Art Center at American University, Washington, DC hosted a retrospective of the artist’s work. Lewis lives and works in Leeds, MA.