Shane Campbell Gallery is pleased to announce Howling, an exhibition of new drawings and sculptures by Tony Lewis. For the artist’s third solo presentation with the gallery, Lewis continues to advance the relationship between improvisations of color and language within a recent body of large graphite and colored pencil drawings. These works on paper utilize a decidedly darker palette of browns, greys, and blacks that simultaneously supports and obfuscates John H. Gregg’s Shorthand glyph system of dictation that has become synonymous with the artist’s visual vocabulary. The remaining parts of graphite Shorthand gestures unshrouded by layered ovoid shapes narrate expressive laughing sounds which become the phonetic and linguistic foundation for each composition. This grouping signifies the first time black has been used as a color in contrast to the graphite consistently present throughout Lewis’s work. These two methods of mark making blend and overlap, masking legibility and skewing humor into something more sinister as distorted faces emerge.
In direct reference to Francisco Goya’s uncanny depiction of the Bogeyman in the third plate of his Los Caprichos series of etchings, Lewis’s floor drawings are installed vertically in the center of the gallery, becoming the cloaked bodies to which the faces within the drawings belong. Born in exhibitions, the floor drawings function as living remnants of previous presentations; always changing, often deteriorating. Originally begun as memorials for a forcibly neutralized prior studio space, each drawing collects and will continue to collect its own history.
For Howling, the artist has employed a specific palette with which to engage the material of graphite and further push the boundaries of his drawing practice. Lewis has created an environment for humor and fear to interact with one another — a place to laugh to keep from screaming or one to hear echoes of wicked hysterics.