Artist Creates “Visual Dialogue” in Painting, Collages

Auburn’s art museum welcomes visiting lecturer and artist Mark Lewis, who will discuss his work, on Wednesday, February 19 at 4:00 pm. Most recently, his work has been exhibited individually at Living Arts of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Bowery Gallery in New York, New York; he has been included in group exhibitions at University of Arkansas and Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock. In addition to his painting, drawing, and collage work, Lewis is an applied associate professor at University of Tulsa and has been published in American Artist and New American Paintings. Lewis received his MFA from Yale University, School of Art and BFA from Kansas City Art Institute.

Below, Lewis provides insight on his inspiration in his own words.  


Peoria_Ave7_marklewisMy paintings and collages are about a way of seeing, constructing and experiencing daily life.  The work is constructed touch by touch in time, usually built from the inside out.  A certain accumulation of material establishes a tactile dialogue of looking, seeing, and realizing. I want to create a visual recognition substantiated through the act or process of working – creating an image of a recognizable place but also creating, realizing and finding a direct and immediate visual recognition in the tactile work utilizing the material, image, space, and surface. (ex. Simultaneously creating a recognizable image and an abstraction).

I enjoy working past the beginning idea of each painting or collage.  I enjoy getting lost and then resurfacing in the painting or collage over a period of several months.  When I choose a place to work in the landscape, I imagine that it is like a jazz musician choosing a standard tune to work with.  Each time they return to the song, they might hold to a structural aspect of the piece but build unique ideas each time they play the music.  I’m interested in establishing a visual dialogue within the working process over an extended period of time.  I love the potential of utilizing time and establishing and making visual choices concrete.  I enjoy the conversation of painting and collaging.  I want others to join in the conversation as well.

I do receive questions about the irregular formats of many of my works.  In one way or another, I enjoy finding and locating the format while I’m working.  I don’t hold this as a hard or fast rule but I’ve been working this way in one form or another for the past 30 years.  Some of the slightly shaped formats in the new graphite collages seem natural to me.

I love light in the landscape – the presence of light not just the effects of light.  It’s exciting and a challenge to find light in paint and graphite.

I worked as a still life painter for many years and thought of myself as a still life painter – the street scenes have replaced the still life tabletop for now.

I’m visually stimulated by Tulsa’s urban landscape.  I also enjoy the studio work – the invented pieces – the street fiction paintings and collages.  I’ve always appreciated artists like Cezanne, Kokoschka, Matisse, artists that work painting from observation and creating studio invented paintings too.

I keep discovering new views in Tulsa that I want to explore.   The landscape and sky provide a unique sense of scale and place.  I enjoy seeing it all.  The ordinary seems extraordinary.  I want to construct, with my materials, the signs, the telephone poles, the storefronts, the high lines, the streets, the cars, the sidewalks, and observing the daily routines of the locals all held under the skies that I love in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


To view images of Lewis’ work, visit the artist’s website.  

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