Turnip (two kinds of violence)

Spencer Lewis

Turnip (two kinds of violence)

13.11.21 → 22.12.21

Sorry We’re Closed is pleased to present Spencer Lewis “Turnip (two kind of violence)”, the gallery’s first exhibition dedicated to the Los Angeles-based artist. On view in Brussels will be nine new large-scale paintings on raw jute canvases and one on cardboard–loose, vibrant, intuitive abstractions that choreograph pictorial space and manifest the accumulation of Lewis’ process-driven gesture. This solo exhibition will be Lewis’ first in Belgium.
On view from November 13 until December 22, 2021


First, an outpouring of colors. Vivid. Saturated. Violently applied on an unstable surface. Within this luminous, almost ethereal coalescence, spots appear. They are under the surface. They rise, soaking the canvas from behind. One then perceives the roughness of the material that reveals them – these spots, these drops, these splashes, these jet-streaming torrents on this unusual background.

It is a thick brown canvas made of jute fibers.
This brown background alters the colors.
By comparison, it makes them appear more intense, more contrasted.

This fiber has been used to weave, among other things, ropes, nets, and bags.
Customary elements that tie, knot, carry, drag, catch, lacerate, hang...

This background serves to put into perspective an opposition.
The opposition between brutal expressionism and graceful composition… between subtle gestures and inscriptions, hidden and revealed… the introduction and subsequent covering of symbols.

The use of paint as a material that coats, drips, and flakes on the surface. Applied with dry brushes, sticks, and spray, sometimes gathering stains and scars as residue. Some of the canvases bear traces of stigmata: objects and studio scraps glued to the jute's surface, over the colors. Then the canvas transmutes, becoming a collage, an installation, a monument, a totem. Emphasizing the essential elements of form and process, Lewis' paintings break down the fundamental components of pain, giving vital form to their reconsideration.

Spencer tells us, "By switching to jute for more hold, a more nuanced and neutral surface emerged compared to the cardboard I was previously using. Also compared to (dare I say it) the canvas. I like cardboard, and similarly jute, because they are brown [...] Both surfaces are Brown, like me. Using these materials makes me think of the brown paper bag test* – with just a drop of blood, our common 3/5ths ancestry."

With Spencer Lewis, the medium is a material that receives the powerful expression of his pictorial gesture, thus being a key element in its understanding: that of a tension between the medium’s heavy materiality as it carries an orbital, geostationary painting.

He says to us: "The satellite, that’s how I symbolize the reading of a painting: through its surface, but also with a spiritual eye. Orbiting in opposite directions with the feeling of an invisible force. Each line is drawn coldly - both in rotation and in its axes of orbit.

A violent, performative, and mathematical gesture.
                                                                                                                                                                              Text by Emilie Pischedda

About the artist
Spencer Lewis (b. 1979, Los Angeles, CA) received a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design in 2001, and an MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2008. Lewis’s work has been the subject of numerous solo presentations including Harper’s, New York and East Hampton, NY (2021, 2020,2019, and 2017); Sorry We’re Closed, Brussels, BE; Vito Schnabel Gallery, New York, NY and St. Moritz, CH (2021); and Nino Mier, Los Angeles, CA (2016). Most recently, he has participated in group exhibitions at The Mass, Tokyo, JP (2021); Harper’s, East Hampton, NY (2020 and 2018); Kathryn Brennan, Los Angeles, CA (2020); Museum aan de Stroom, Antwerp, BE (2019); No Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2019); and Lowell Ryan Projects, Los Angeles, CA (2019). His work has appeared in numerous publications including ARTnews, Juxtapoz, and Two Coats of Paint. Lewis lives and works in Los Angeles

Selected Images