nomenclature movement free pressure power weight
Organized by Rose Bouthillier, Associate Curator
Toby Devan Lewis Gallery
June 6, 2015 — September 5, 2015
In his expansive drawing practice, Tony Lewis uses action and language to explore communication, presence, and authority. Focusing on graphite powder as a basic material element, his works emphasize the body through scale, tension, and imprint. Tony Lewis: nomenclature movement free pressure power weight is the artist’s first solo museum exhibition. In keeping with the process-driven, non-hierarchical nature of Lewis’ work, the word order of the exhibition’s title will be kept in flux.
The exhibition features six new large-scale works from Lewis' recently begun series of Gregg shorthand drawings. Invented in 1888, Gregg shorthand is a now outmoded phonetic writing system, where particular line forms correspond to spoken sounds. Each of the drawings features one of the words from the exhibition’s title, which collectively speak to the artist's process and concerns. These solitary hand-written characters emphasize the fluid, abstract, and gestural nature of notation. The exhibition will also feature one of Lewis’ floor drawings, which begin as graphite-coated paper floor coverings for entire rooms. After their initial installation, they are pulled up and compressed into sculptural objects, which are transformed each time they are exhibited, accumulating marks, creases, and tears.
Lewis also will install a large text piece, visible from the Museum’s monumental stair. Made with nails, stretched rubber bands, and graphite, this work is part of a series based on excerpts from Life’s Little Instruction Book by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. First encountered by the artist in his mother’s bathroom, this book has gone on to play an influential role in his practice. In isolating and magnifying these “instructions,” Lewis shifts their meaning and reveals the ways in which they assume, exclude, and exert power, while also speaking to personal fears and desires.
Tony Lewis (1986, LA), grew up in Cleveland and currently lives and works in Chicago. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at Bindery Projects, Minneapolis; Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago; and Massimo de Carlo, London. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including Sharon Hayes, Tony Lewis, Adam Pendleton, Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York (2015); the 2014 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; NEXT (2014), The Arsenal, Montreal; and Retreat (2014), organized by Theaster Gates, and presented by Black Artist Retreat, Valerie Carberry Gallery and Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago.
Tony Lewis: nomenclature power pressure movement free weight is made possible with the generous support of Hahn Loeser. His catalog is available thanks to the support of the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.
All 2015 Exhibitions are funded by Leadership Circle gifts from an anonymous donor, Doreen and Dick Cahoon, Joanne Cohen and Morris Wheeler, Margaret Cohen and Kevin Rahilly, Victoria Colligan and John Stalcup, Becky Dunn, Lauren Rich Fine and Gary Giller, Barbara and Peter Galvin, Harriet Goldberg, Agnes Gund, Scott Mueller, Donna and Stewart Kohl, and Toby Devan Lewis.
All MOCA Cleveland exhibitions are presented with major support from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, the Cleveland Foundation, the George Gund Foundation, and the continuing support of the Museum’s Board of Directors, patrons, and members.