Art & Culture People

Talking Art: Interview with Dale Lewis

White Lightnening by Dale Lewis

Dale Lewis is undeniably one of the most talented as well as creative up and coming abstract British artists of today; his work is awe inspiring and thought provoking, reaching deep into the mind of the viewer and bringing out emotions they may not have known they possessed.

One of Mr. Lewis’ latest shows, titled “Fat, Sugar and Salt”, brings together a collection of mural sized paintings which breathe life into the depiction of comical grotesque scenes of contemporary, lower class, urban existence packaged inside a quintessentially British set of modern dark humor.  The end result of viewing Lewis’ work can best be described as unforgettable.

Far flung from his days as a studio assistant to Damien Hirst and Raqib Shaw, where he worked on kaleidoscope and photorealist paintings; Lewis, now fueled by his absorption of past memories, paints in a frantic style of work that is often compared to that of the likes of David Hockney and Jean-Michel Basquiat. 

What has been the inspiration for some of your most recent works?

“The latest body of work shown at Edel Assanti was based on my home in East London, after spending quite a lot of time away last year I thought I’d focus more on what I see in my immediate surroundings.”

What does it mean to you to be a quintessentially British artist? What is your viewpoint in regards to the Art Scene in London today?

“There is lots of British humour in my work and looking at very ordinary day to day life of people that I’m surrounded by. I don’t think much of the art scene, it’s more important to look at life in general rather than look at what everybody else is doing.”

Take us through a day in the life of Dale Lewis.

“It’s quite ordinary. I wake up naturally and slowly make my way to the studio along the canal and think about what I’ll do when I get there. Arriving in the studio, I have some breakfast and start painting. I usually paint til quite late in the evening and drink wine and look at what I’ve made today. I’m usually filthy at the end of the day and head home to spend an hour or so in the bath before going to bed.”

Your work consistently explores both dark humor and religious references, which ultimately provokes and develops deep thought and emotion within the mind of the viewer, if there is just one thing that a viewer takes away with them from your work what would you like that to be?

“I would just like them to remember it. Or see something they see in their own life reflected back at them.”

How has your own London neighborhood helped inspire your paintings that depict scenes of the reality of urban life?

“I live in a very poor, miserable part of East London where I see people drinking in the morning. There is rubbish everywhere and people not doing very much, and I like that. No ambition and no future.”

Are there any artists in particular that have influenced you most?

“Yeah, probably Rose Wylie, she’s a real hero. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know her over the last few years. I find her work very freeing and enjoyable.”

Are there any other mediums outside of spray paint/acrylic on canvas that you are looking to explore further in the future?

“Not really. I’m a traditional painter. I like the smell of the paint. I like how oil moves and how instant spray paint is. It suits my often frantic way of working.”

What has the transition been like going from photorealist paintings into your current style, which seems to bridge the gap between abstract and the latter?

“The transition was very quick. I was always attracted to large grubby paintings and wonder why I took so long to start making them. Photorealist paintings I find painful to look at. They are laborious and lack energy. I was working for [Raqib Shaw] at the time making very intricate detailed work and that wasn’t good for my practice. When I left there, the paintings arrived.”

How would you describe your creative process?

“It’s very fast and intense after very long periods of contemplation, planning and imagining.”

What are you currently working on? Any upcoming shows that we should keep our eyes peeled for?

“Just returned from Australia, so I’m going to make a body of work based on scenarios I saw there. Maybe some of these works will feature in a show I have in December with Mier Gallery in LA. I’ll also be doing a residency at The Arsenal in Montreal, in the summer. Which I’m really looking forward to.”

Where can we follow you?

“Instagram @dalelewis80


Images courtesy of: Dale Lewis/via the “Fat, Sugar, Salt exhibition at Edel Assanti

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