Sunday, June 12, 2022

Stanley Lewis at Betty Cunningham

Behold the world of Stanley Lewis, who observes, "the harder you concentrate, the more treacherous it becomes." Backyard with a Wagon, Table, and Chair, 2022, oil and acrylic on canvas, @53 x 65 inches.

Mounted on thick, pallet-like boards, this monumental painting takes time to absorb, and apparently to paint--Lewis worked in the frigid cold on a scaffolding that adjusted to angles viewing areas of the yard.

It's a first to know acrylic was involved in the welter of marks and calibrated color.

There's loads of paint, also plastic mesh, scraps of canvas, the painting literally buckles at the bottom with the weight of all that backyard. It's simply a pleasure to behold so much information, so structured yet recreating the world with aplomb, true compression and expansion.

Table, House, Wagon, oil on canvas, 17 x 23 inches (approximately)

Intersection Post Road and Compo Road, 2015-19, acrylic on paper, 28.5 x 30 inches

Lewis' drawings are equally worked and complex, added to as the paintings are. Lovell Lake Through the Trees, 2021, ballpoint pen and pencil on paper, 11.5 x 15.5 inches

View of the Garden with Orange Fence II, 2020, acrylic on paper, 38.5 x 33.5 inches
Filled to the brim, yet spacious, and the eye climbs almost anywhere.

Odd, flattened trees, adding dynamic planar impact that condenses the weight of the painting in a focual point; changing stripes on the house, so surprising

Getting wild with orange fencing, he exclaims in a (hand-written) letter to Cunningham, "except the color is not good--too sweet, too summery, so much green and the garden fence is ORANGE."

My heart melts for this chair, beat up, hanging in there, holding its own.

Another surprise view of the garden and orange fencing in View of the Garden with Orange Fence I, 2021, acrylic on paper, 39.5 x 32 inches

The moment of realizing a clearing of white is on top, not beneath; you simply can't see that in the actual painting. The white between branches and top of car share the same plane in space, but never pictorially.

A Yale grad in the noteworthy 1960s,Lewis always represented Painting with a capital P (patriarchy too), with such a generous eye. Relentlessly pursuing his vision, he held his lamp close, recording visual secrets that unfold over years. 

Earth, bricks and mortar, embodiment and materiality: Northampton, MA, which  bracing climate yields to warmth hard-won. 

Paintings push hard, look carefully, match history in quality while revealing contemporary life. Epic surveys of a complicated landscape. I'd love to look at one all day, recreating, best I could with my eyes, the experience of painting it, layer by exquisite layer.

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