photo by Wytske van Keulen
William Lewis has family roots in the mid-western and southern United States. He studied at Parsons School of Design (both the New York City and Paris branches), Hunter College, where he earned a BFA, and New York University from which he graduated with his MA in 1992. After several years of working and exhibiting in New York, he moved to Boise in 1997 where he lives with his partner, the artist Kirsten Furlong. Following a stint as an adjunct professor in the Art Department at Boise State University, he began teaching art full-time in the public school system. Lewis’ work has been exhibited in New York and in multiple venues in the northwest. Exhibition reviews of his art have appeared in The Boise
Weekly, Idaho Arts Quarterly, and in the internationally distributed magazine, Art in America. He was a recipient of the 2011 Fellowship award from the Idaho Commission on the Arts. His work is in the collections of the Boise Art Museum, the City of Boise, the Boise Public Library as well as other public and private collections.
Tell It Slant Press Release
Neovison Gallery is pleased to announce our inaugural exhibition of William Lewis’ Tell It Slant opening Saturday, November 12th, at 208 E. 37th Street, Unit 2. Across eleven paintings in the gallery, Lewis presents a new body of work that continues his playful and sensitive rendering of the human head as both an object of bone and organ and a symbolic scaffold and form for our projections. Lewis’ paintings affirm the immanent contradiction that as familiar and concrete as our facial expressions are - as sentences to be read - there are fragments that remain oblique and unknowable. These paintings refuse to cohere into a knowable person, yet each vibrates with the kind of idiosyncrasies we associate with the faces we most intimately recognize. Like our own reflections under too-close scrutiny these faces appear uncanny and foreign to us. In contemplating Lewis’ body of heads, we linger on the word persona and its expansive poignancy which encompasses both the ancient and the ultra-contemporary. The word derives from the ancient Greek, prósōpon, which refers to the masks worn in theater meant to denote specific social roles. A persona is both the most primitive and the most advanced form of social design; it is simultaneously entirely material and entirely illusion. It is a low-tech costume and the essence of our social media avatars. Personas are always multiple, unstable, and shifting. In times of great societal upheaval, times when the social fabric is fraying, our personas and their constructedness become most apparent. Appearing in multiple of Lewis’ heads are fragments of framing lumber which evoke the boarded-up windows of a derelict place, or perhaps more accurately, a structure anticipating a climate disaster or social unrest. These heads have been “boarded-up” as a provisional form of shelter from the storm. More broadly, the timber in these heads reads as a sign that says “builtness.” We are constructed and deconstructed by one another in a continuous and always provisional way. The constellation of normative facial features (eyes, nose, ears, and mouth) becomes minor in the broader landscape of Lewis’ humorous, frightening, and touching painterly objects that fill our heads with abstract formations that can only be described as feelings.