Zane Lewis’ Shards Series is an inspiring body of work imbued with visual schizophrenia!
Mind-altering, viciously pretty, shimmering and seductive, NYC artist Zane Lewis takes mixed-media art to the extreme, re-fashioning glass fragments into sublime chimera as flashy as the New York City skyline. Ever since the Texan-bred, NYC-based whiz-kid began making eye-popping drip paintings in the mid 00s he’s been a force to be reckoned with. Lewis’ transgressive streak and razor-sharp attention to detail permeates everything he produces, from paintings to sculptures to his latest mixed-media ‘shatter-paintings’ that have catapulted him into the artistic limelight. No wonder he regularly shows at the Whitney (they called him a ‘precocious groundbreaker’), exhibits next to Terence Koh and has recently taken up residence at the Gagosian Gallery. And all by the tender age of 30!
The artist’s latest body of work is straight-up dazzling and so strewn with colour, intricacy and phenomenological meaning that one struggles to find comparisons. A deft master-blaster of composition, craftsmanship and style, Lewis’ ornamental paintings are a visual carnival for the eyes and mind. His ‘shatter-paintings’ (pictured here) are fashioned out of acrylic paint and jagged shards, some of which he collected from the streets around his East Williamsburg workshop from smashed cars and abandoned factories. Using a technique he calls ‘crystal-casting,’ Lewis combines painting, industrial craftwork, pop, minimalism, monochrome, high art, low culture and something rebellious all in his dexterous hand and analytical approach. His toolkit is equally diverse, working with sand-blasters, blow torches, coloured enamels and oil paints. i-D online caught-up with the artist at his Brooklyn studio to find out what gets his juices flowing…
What are your key influences? James Turrell, Budd Hopkins’ musings on UFO’s and alien abductions, A Clockwork Orange, Kurt Cobain’s nihilistic hissy-fits, Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal, Cubism and Futurism. Oh, and Stanley Kubrick’s beyond the infinite vignette.
What do you like about Budd Hopkins’ work? I like the spaces (‘temporal voids’) often described by alien abductees, crystal cities and seamless rooms with no corners or proportions; it’s very dream-like and hyper-surreal and I was able to tie that into my newest aesthetic.
How has your art changed since you first started doing ‘drip-paintings’? I feel like my work has evolved a lot in a more mature direction. My drip-paintings were an expression of my early youth, in a way, and were a bridge to now.
Tell us about why you selected glass shards for your new compositions? Glass is a multi-coded metaphor for so many things: it represents transparency and safety or when broken it can be ominous and violent. I like its duality and multiplicity and I love how the shards interact with and reflect light. My finished compositions remind me of knives and flower-pedals and that dual-theme inspires me.
Your painting style has become increasingly about structure. Why has this change come about? I’m striving for truth and order as opposed to illusions and purely abstract works.
What’s next for Zane Lewis? Anything is possible!
Zane Lewis at The Whitney, New York runs until 25th October 2011.
Text: Cody Ross
Photography: Brittany Kubat