When I Felt Like I Could Sing That, Then I Felt Like I Was In
“...I liked to go out with Dizzy because I used to get thrilled listening to them when he did his bebop. That’s actually the way I feel I learned what you call bop. It was quite an experience, and he used to always tell me, ‘Come on up and do it with the fellas.’ That was my education in learning how to really bop. We used to do OoBop-Sh’Bam-a-Klook-a-Mop.’ That’s one of the first things I remember he used to do... and that fascinated me. When I felt like I could sing that, then I felt like I was in.” - Ella Fitzgerald
Massimo De Carlo London is pleased to present When I Felt Like I Could Sing That, Then I Felt Like I Was In, an exhibition by Tony Lewis that will present a new body of work, shown for the first time.
Tony Lewis’s practice focuses on the relationship between semiotics and language: graphite pencil and paper are the mediums the artist uses to trace and create abstract narratives and reflections on the notion of the gestural. When I Felt Like I Could Sing That, Then I Felt Like I Was In embodies the artists’ research for pure abstraction: tracing the conclusion of a research process that started in his earlier series of drawings titled Gregg Shorthand.
This new body of work, where graphite and coloured pencils generate impulsive and rhythmic shapes on paper, is intended by Lewis as a further exploration of the Gregg Shorthand system* and its connection to sound, speech and pulse. In this series of drawings seemingly simple abstractions conceal intricate narratives, “beginning with a phoneme gesture as the systematic foundation (of the drawing), the coloured pencil works to support, react to, and riff off of the initial rhythm put forth by linguistic sound, creating a sequence of improvisation, and a diagram of cosmic libido.”
Each drawing in the exhibition results as a take on planned yet raw abstraction. Fragments of phonetics and colour form a visual and musical composition of chatter and shapes, which merge together to offer a reflection on the convergence of sound, language and tones.
Tony Lewis was born in 1986 in Los Angeles. He currently lives and works in Chicago.
Lewis’s practice focuses on the relationship between semiotics and language to confront social and political topics such as race, power, communication, and labour. Lewis creates drawings using graphite, pencil and paper, mediums the artist uses to trace and develop abstract narratives and reflections on the notion of the gestural. By pushing the boundaries of drawing and the possibilities of abstraction, he expands the use of the “material” of language. As expressed by Melissa Chiu, Director of Hirshhorn Museum: ‘Lewis has quickly established himself in the contemporary art world by forming a distinct visual vocabulary that integrates poetry and text with the properties of abstraction, and his monochromatic drawings pull from various visual and written sources, ranging from the personal to the political. Separating, rearranging, and erasing text, he shifts the way we move through language to open up new and unexpected readings.’
Lewis participated in the 2014 iteration of the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, NY and was the recipient of the 2017–2018 Ruth Ann and Nathan Perlmutter Artist-in-Residence Award at the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, Waltham, MA