Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Writing the Biography for for OSTRALE'O16

Steve Lewis, who was born and raised in Dividing Creek, NJ, began oil painting while studying with Elsie Donaghay as a child. Under the tutelage of Judith Scull at Bridgeton High School, he learned new drawing and painting techniques that were employed to develop a body of work used to apply to art colleges. Lewis received a BFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. Here he studied the figure and explored large scale painting with Joan Semmel and Billie Pritchard. During his undergraduate studies, he did a Junior Year Abroad at Reading University in Reading, England. Lewis traveled through Europe, which was a life changing experience and eventually led him to settle down in Leipzig, Germany. He returned to the United States to earn an MFA at Edinboro University in Edinboro, PA. There he worked closely with painters such as Rachael Harper and Steve Emmett. Although his paintings became increasingly abstract visually, the content and exploration of personal connections to family and friends was of great importance.

Lewis' paintings called Meta-Triptychs mark a return to figurative painting with a new use of narrative and focus mainly on Americana. He began developing this idea after reading about metamodernism and the Notes on Metamodernism by Timotheus Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker. Each of these paintings include three focal points within one narrative scene. There seems to be a break or a change in the flow of a normal event; where a surprise or something unexpected takes place. As one views the depicted moment in time, one ponders what has just taken place and what will happen next. This engagement with the painting is as much the art as the painted piece. The compositions are arranged in a manner whereby the viewers feel as though they are part of the environment or could easily imagine stepping into the scene – where they become part of the narrative for that moment and begin to contemplate what to do next.

Donald Trump's campaign to become the Republican candidate has ignited the production of new paintings expressing the fear of such a person leading America. The work visually provokes the viewer to contemplate what the effects of Trump's presidency would mean. His ruthless attacks and shameless accusations have never before been seen during political debates. The thought of his behavior during presidential meetings with world leaders is as terrifying as how he would handle domestic and international situations. Voters need to realize that the circus that has been playing out during this primary election is not funny anymore. Serious consideration should be given to how Trump could threaten the world. 

During OSTRALE ́O16, "error: X" can be interpreted as the many problems experienced and reported on daily around the world. The challenges we face personally, locally, nationally, and internationally are complex and intertwined. Through social media and the internet we are more informed but also more manipulated than ever before. Lewis' Americana paintings are products of living and producing art in this environment. It is important to tell personal stories, to visually capture important moments from our past, and share them in order to reconnect to our society.

©Steve Lewis 2016

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