From left to right: Night Garden (2015), Club Tropicana (2017), Poutine (2018), Special K (2017), Wives and Girlfriends (2017), Bow Bells (2017)
Dale Lewis is a British artist that started his art career from the bottom of the ladder. He was the former assistant of both Damien Hirst and Raqib Shaw, two world-renowned contemporary artists.
Working under Damien Hirst, Lewis painstakingly placed thousands of butterfly wings onto paint. He then spent four and a half years painting microscopically-detailed photorealist paintings. These experiences led Lewis to create art that is less labor-intensive but equally impressive - vast paintings.
Lewis' canvas works are often two by four meters, and they only take Lewis a single day to finish. They are created with acrylic paint, oil paint, and spray paint to depict twisted scenes that are sometimes surreal, and other times mundane.
Twisting the Ordinary:
His figurative paintings draw viewers in through ordinary scenes that are depicted in an unordinary spotlight. At first, people may only notice the scene of a birthday party or a family dinner. However, if they look closer, they will see gay sex clubs and gang violence. Dale Lewis's work is entrancing and enthralling because of his portrayal of anxieties in public settings and life. He is not afraid to use vibrant colors and taboo or controversial depictions to emphasize worldwide issues and events.
Layers and Layers:
Underneath the layers of complexity and irreverence, there also lies a search for identity. Lewis explores this theme of identity throughout his pieces. Throughout his years as an artist, Lewis has evolved and discovered his own style. His experiences under Damien Hirst and Raqib Shaw resulted in tight paintings. However, after he decided to pursue his own art career, his paintings suddenly opened and became more expressive.
"Now I really hate photorealist paintings, and I don’t really like abstract paintings either. I think what I do now kind of lands somewhere in the middle" ~ Dale Lewis
All of his paintings are painted from memory and filtered through a satirical viewpoint that cannot be replicated. This is because he believes, "memory is really powerful in the sense that it has a visual side as well as an emotional/physical one." He never paints from any source material, so his paintings are always distorted versions of true events. By relying on his memory, he is emotionally connected to his work and own identity.
While Dale Lewis is a fairly new face in the LGBTQ art scene, he is a force to be reckoned with. 2019 has just begun, and he is definitely an artist that everyone should look out for. He is changing the game and stigma around queer art through paintings with a dark, twisted humor to them.