Saturday, September 6, 2008

"Where Heaven Made Fun" A selection of works by Nathan Lewis

                                  University of New Haven's Seton Gallery featuring the works of
                                                             Nathan Lewis
                                           "Into the White- Stephen Vincent Kobasa"
                                           OIl on Canvas
                                           Nathan Lewis

                        "Till we Find the Blessed Isles Where our Friends are Dwelling"
                         72"x120" acrylic on canvas
                           Nathan Lewis

One huge benefit of earning my undergraduate degree at the Paier College of Art was the ongoing friendship that was formed with my instructor Nathan Lewis. I recently attended his show"Where Heaven Made Fun" at the University of New Haven's Seton Gallery. This show was Lewis's first solo show since his previous solo show at Jack the Pelican Gallery in New York in Feb. of 2008. Moving in the direction of installation art Lewis has found ways to display his paintings in unconventional ways, and gives his audience more than just a typical rectangle or square on the wall. At the Seton Gallery Lewis installed an old row boat to accompany the piece" Till we Find the Blessed Isles Where out Friends are Dwelling, in which is a contemporary homage to Leutze's Washington Crossing the Delaware. This piece depicts a group of people aboard a boat fighting against rough currents, while the center figure(Dean Francis Cooley of Paier College) raises an American flag which hangs upside down. This powerful image comments on the United States uncertain role in the middle East and raises questions to what the future out come will be.  Lewis's  strong use of the diagonal in this composition creates a sense of hope for the people aboard the boat as they progress upwards and into the unknown.  As an illustrator I enjoy the fact that the  back ground of this painting is reminiscent of a Max Field Parrish painting , and it is great to see a painter like Lewis acknowledging great "illustrators" and not only so called"fine artists".

Lewis has included four new pieces in this show from his last, and all four are excellent. The newest of Lewis's paintings show his migration from acrylics back to oils, and in a rather successful way. Of the new pieces the one that stood out to me was the portrait"Into the White-Stephen Vincent Kobasa." I believe the painting is a portrait of teacher,writer, and Christian activist Stephen Vincent Kobasa, whom focuses his work in the"Columbia Solidarity,towards abolition of the death penalty and in opposition to nuclear weapons. This painting is reminiscent of the early Renaissance paintings that depicted John the Baptist entering the wilderness, and Lewis explained that he also referred to Alchemical drawings when composing this image. The brush work in this painting is magnificent, and shows the Lewis's ability to manipulate the medium . In Lewis's earlier works the figure is portrayed in a  in a rather simple manner. The figure was broken done into light and dark a halftone and a shadow area. Lewis simply mapped out the shadow , and half tone areas with limited  detail , a principal in which he taught in his classes on how to simply define a complex from. We begin to see in more recent pieces such as "Songs of  die Mutterland" the artists attention to detail,where he has begun to model form in a more complex manner. In this most recent piece we can see how the artists technique and attention to detail have continued to evolve, and the results are amazing.

More of Nathan Lewis's work can be seen on his blog:
To read some of his personal ramblings on art check out:

Exhibition Hours:Tues-Thurs 1-5 p.m,Fri 1-7, Sat-Sun 12-3 through sept 26.

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