New York

Jeffrey Lew

Jeffrey Lew’s outer-directed paintings and prints are among the most intriguing in town this season. His attitude towards relationships among concrete elements—technique/format, materials/surfaces—is exciting because it is active. The images, large schematic representations of books, seem literally to rush at the viewer. Whether the volume is opened to display a rainbow of colored pages or closed to reveal a highly textured back and spine, as in Split Decision, the image is a metaphorical come-on, suggesting the intersection of the worlds of learning and art: This is clearly a literary, pictorial convention grounded in art history, if ever there was one. Lew raises the notion of a book within a book by using a two-page (diptych) spread. While thoughts may turn to symbolic meaning, the eyes still always focus on the work’s physical existence. Using an oil-based blend in the paintings, that includes mica and fish scales, Lew applies the mixture with sureness and precision. He stresses color and value contrasts; the rough, layered surfaces, which sparkle because of their light-reflective properties, grab attention. The paintings—with sensations of weight, density and shape that are hard to ignore—loom before us as physical objects and at the same time emanate from the glow of paint.

Ronny H. Cohen