For Dale Lewis paintings are to be looked at and enjoyed. They are not to be decoded or spun. His large canvases are immediate, impactful and bold. But they are also layered, thoughtful and wry. What may appear to be carnivalesque is also mundane, and what is ordinary reveals itself as bizarre.

Lewis paints from observation, from situations he has witnessed or imagined, and sometimes those he has been directly involved in. Tableaux of bodies dining in restaurants, strolling along boulevards, sunbathing or convulsing in orgies are composed along classical lines, often taking pictorial cues from mediaeval panel paintings or Renaissance masterpieces. This apparent clash of the profane and the exalted produces an ambivalence that permeates the work. For some the scenes are hilarious, for others horrific, and Lewis can never predict which way a particular viewer will fall.

The city and the spectrum of behaviour that it harbours within its complexity is the wellspring of Lewis’s imagery. London and Los Angeles, where the super-rich enact their lives of plenty against a backdrop patched with desperate poverty and homelessness, provides plenty of satirical content. But these paintings are also personally cathartic, since Lewis’s experience of growing up in London is similarly variegated. Violence, crime, drugs and callousness have been as ever-close as the proverbial rat, while most of its citizens remain oblivious. Sunday Roast depicts an orgy scene, cleaned up as if to pass the censors by hiding each cock in the orifice of another. Somewhere someone is tucking into a beef wellington, while here, they are tucking into a different meat altogether.

The city generates hiding places by dint of its multifaceted make-up, and while the so-called bright lights and the genteel suburbs continue their businesses of wealth accumulation, there are plenty in these murky interstices who are bent on abusing ignorance and naïvety. But it is the British way to laugh in the face of tragedy, and so these individual desires and social mores become the stuff of Lewis’s dark comedies.

- Sally O'Reilly, Jerwood Painting Fellowship Catalogue, 2016


Born in 1980, Essex, UK
Lives and works in London, UK

2014 – 2015 Turps Banana Painting Programme
2005 – 2006 Ma Fine Art, University Of Brighton
2002 – 2004 Ba Fine Art, London Guildhall University
2000 – 2002 Ba Fashion And Textiles, Liverpool John Moores University

2015 – 2016 Jerwood Painting Fellowship

Mixed Signals, Christian Larsen Gallery, Stockholm
Hope Street, Choi and Lager Gallery, Seoul/Korea (solo)
Jerwood Painting fellowships, Jerwood space, London
Ad Minoliti/Dale Lewis, Edel Assanti Gallery, Lodon
NADA NY solo booth/Edel Assanti. Pier 36, basket ball city, New York

Summer Show, Turps Gallery, London
Art Car Boot Fair, London
Spring Show, No 4A Gallery, Malvern
The future can wait, Art Bermondsey project space, London
New London figurative, Charlie Smith, London

A Remembered Dream, The Invisible Line Gallery, London
TIAF, The Rag Factory, London

To Your Health, Lomography Gallery, London

Heroes and Villains, The VZ Gallery, London

Drench/Absorb, Oblong Gallery, London
Drawing, Magatzems, Valencia

In War at War, Art Space, Illinois

Possible Preparation, Grey Area, Brighton

Giving Birth to Monsters, UOB Gallery, Brighton

Erotica, The Basement, Brighton

DRAF (David Roberts Art Foundation)
Private collections