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Jason Clay Lewis, Drop Dead Gorgeous

31 Grand
143 Ludlow Street, between Rivington and Stanton, 212-228-0901
East Village / Lower East Side
October 9 - November 9, 2008
Reception: Thursday, October 9, 7 - 9 PM
Web Site

31GRAND is pleased to present Jason Clay Lewis’s Drop Dead Gorgeous. Empathy/apathy, desire/revulsion, poison/panacea, death/life, religion/blasphemy: Drop Dead Gorgeous distills these binaries into Poison/Religion, pushing the boundaries between them. Which is good? Which is bad? Are these judgments even possible?

The poison pieces reference Empathy: as we go up the food chain, our empathy increases until we reach the ultimate form represented by the Crucifixion. Lewis’s fascination with religious topics—seen throughout his work—this time focuses on semiotic ambivalence of Christian iconography. “d-CON Mary,” a recognizable form covered in rat poison package stickers and prominently displayed bar codes, questions not only the benefit of religion but also the commercialization of religious iconography.

The motif of the skull has reoccurred throughout Lewis’s work, appearing in works ranging from the contemplative Ikebana sculptures, to the death’s head pin-up girl paintings, to the horrors of war as seen in the Torture Panel paintings. The large breasted, seductively posed pinups are topped by bare skulls—a disjunction that causes an abrupt cessation of panting adolescent desire. However, despite its aura of death and horror, the skull also recalls and reaffirms life: if Death were one of these golden haired seductresses, who would be afraid?

Jason Clay Lewis came to New York in 1991 on a scholarship and internship at Universal Limited Art Editions. From 1992 – 1994 he worked with Jasper Johns as his personal studio assistant.  Continuing his education, he graduated from The Cooper Union with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1997.  Jason has been actively showing for the last several years both nationally and internationally.  His work has appeared and reviewed in publications including Art In America, World of Art, Art On Paper and The Los Angeles Times.

“As an artist, my approach has always been, intentionally, to confound and challenge attempts to make things fit into what we already know and think. I strive to question perceived beauty, passion, life, death, and creation. I have an urgent conviction that art is a passionate and essential affair, a matter of life and death, where one senses the only response to death is art. Without glossing over the violence of the natural world I ask questions about man’s suicidal folly, the one we call progress, a merger into a religion of commerce and profit, of false facades, and using a strategy to make us reconsider our world of visual imagery. I tinker with these visual explanations, trying to give them purpose, direction, and meaning. Always perfectly aware that knowing this constant probing does not have a sequence to a perfect solution. Atypical and fascinating, as an adventurer blending expression, analysis, and experience, I use every means and media available to explore the love of knowledge and depict limits, while trying to push those limits even farther. My interest in unique materials helps to develop my ideas of attraction verses repulsion allowing my work to have both a strong visceral feeling while maintaining a direct cerebral presence.”
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