Watch Me Slowly Death
AUGUST–OCTOBER 2009Mixed Greens is pleased to present their second solo exhibition of new works by Zane Lewis. In Watch Me Slowly Death, Lewis juxtaposes religious imagery with high-fashion advertisements to create portrait and still life paintings that modernize and recontextualize their historic roots.
Lewis creates still life pieces out of fashion posters, ads and mirrors, rather than the fruits and flowers used in 17th and 18th Century Vanitas paintings. In one series, Chanel posters appear to be ripped from cosmetic counters, crackling and wilting+in their frames. The result is a reinterpretation of the genre. Instead of capturing a moment in time and alluding to inevitable decay, Lewis creates a situation that not only references decay, but participates in it. All of the posters and ads in his work are distressed; their sexy, slick images are crumbling and defaced by Lewis’ hand.
In another series, hundreds of iconic Chanel ads are layered, cut, and reassembled to create a portrait of Jesusin a crown of thorns—a vision of excess culminating in the most universally understood image of death. At first, the piece appears a jumble of materials, a map of constellations or a graffitied wall. Upon further inspection, the piece is a collage of ads that sell the ideas of youth and seduction. To create these works, Lewis never uses a brush, but rather, like a surgeon, cuts his pieces with a knife, each gesture subtractive and nihilistic. Then, when a piece is ready, he drips and pours paint to react like bodily fluids and humanize his subject again. Much like Jack Villeglé, Lewis tears and recombines advertisements to reflect reality and comment on contemporary culture.
Allusions to death and the impossibility of eternal youth culminate in two very large portraits on mirror: one of a skull, the other of Jesus in a crown of thorns, bleeding paint from his eyes. However dark the undertones, there is a balance created by Lewis’ poetic streak—a pure, romantic and sincere love of paint, art history and the fashion ads he destroys.
Zane Lewis received his BFA from the Atlanta College of Art in 2004. Since then, his group show venues include the Mobile Museum of Art, Mobile, AL (2008); moniquemeloche gallery, Chicago, IL (2008); LeRoy Neiman Gallery at Columbia University, New York City (2008); The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX (2007); Hudson River Museum, Yonkers, NY (2007); Mark Moore Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2007); Blue Star Contemporary Art Center, San Antonio, TX (2003, 2005, 2006); DiverseWorks, Houston, TX (2005); and MOCA, Atlanta, GA (2004). He has had solo shows at Finesilver Gallery in San Antonio, TX, and Romo Gallery in Atlanta, GA. His work is on the cover of the No. 72 issue of New American Paintings. In 2006, he was listed as a “23-Year-Old-Master” in the Wall Street Journal.
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