Artist: Tony Lewis
painting | Pencil, graphite powder and tape on paper | 2134x1524mm | 2013

Tony Lewis’s recent drawings begin with a statement that he wrote, based on found quotations, to describe the past, present, and future of race relations in the United States. He breaks down this original, undisclosed statement, disassembling its syntax and distressing the words’ appearance on the paper. What is left are the faded remnants of the source, which become a new form of language that viewers are forced to interpret for themselves. Working in the tradition of other visual artists whose works analyze language and its effects, such as Lawrence Weiner (b. 1942), Jenny Holzer (b. 1950), Glenn Ligon (b. 1960), Barbara Kruger (b. 1945), and William Pope.L (b. 1955), Lewis’s stray letters and dismantled words also function on a graphic level. The graphite and pencil that he uses to painstakingly form the letters’ shapes spread out across the paper, over loose lines and smudges, to produce a field of marks that lacks clarity and, like any language, discovers its own inevitable limitations.


Whitney Biennal 2014 | 2014.03.07 - 2014.05.25 | Whitney Museum of American Art(New York City, NY, United States)