Raymond Lewis: Hall of Saints
November 11, 2023 – January 27, 2024
Original ink and watercolor on paper by Raymond Lewis; video animation by Jonathan Howard
“Raymond Lewis: Hall of Saints” marks Raymond Lewis’ first solo exhibition at Art Enables. Here, one of the most distinctive elements of his style extends through the exhibition’s theme: the lines that carefully map and divide Lewis’ ink and watercolor works congregate in fragile, complex arrangements that call to mind the welded panes of stained glass. Visitors are invited to view his jewel-like works in the gallery as if they were windows lining the nave of a church, honoring two of Lewis’ most beloved subjects: saints and superheroes.
Comingling both, a large projection of a stained glass window painted by Lewis glows at the end of the gallery. In its panes, an angel hovers above depictions of Mary, Black Lightning, Jesus, and The Wasp, figures alternately from the Bible and DC and Marvel comics. Elsewhere, halos of light anoint the heads of Mary, Jesus, Joseph, and St. Francis, as well as comic book characters Black Giant and the Human Torch, who floats in a blaze of fire that seems as holy as the light radiating from Mary beside him. Jesus opens his arms to his followers and a host of angels in one work. In another, Aquaman strikes the same powerful pose, commanding the ocean tides and the life teeming within them. All figures are treated with the same reverence. All are epic characters and idols, imbued with meaning cherished by both church congregants and comic book devotees. In Raymond Lewis’ Hall of Saints, biblical figures are superheroes, and superheroes are divine guardians, all of their narratives consecrated in the singular, sensitive line of his hand.
Raymond with his stained glass projection in the gallery.
Video animation by Jonathan Howard.
Raymond Lewis’ work is full of lush and intricate detail. He is a thoughtful and deliberate artist with a preference for watercolor and ink paintings as well as emphasis on patterns, textures, and imagined lines. His subject matter is wide-ranging and depicts things like superheroes, sweeping landscapes, animals, sea life, and portraits of both real and imagined people. He draws inspiration from the world around him, religious imagery, nature, and his love of comic books and graphic novels. Like Raymond himself, his work can be subtle and soft-spoken, with a lot going on beneath the surface.