Dale Lewis is an incredibly prolific artist, creating large-scale expressive works commenting on society. He has recently showed with Choi & Lager gallery at Untitled Miami, Saatchi and preparing for a solo show at Edel Assanti early in 2018. Lewis grew up visiting galleries like these to see the likes of Damien Hirst and Grayson Perry. To be showing his work at Saatchi Gallery is what he considers the ‘seal of approval’ on his work to date.
His first studio with us was in our Bermondsey site in 2012. He then moved to Bow Road, where he left to complete a residency in the states, but has returned to our P1 studios just down the road from our headquarters. It’s always a pleasure to welcome back previous studio members to our affordable workspaces, and we are happy to have found Dale a fitting studio where he can continue making such great work.
After completing a Masters course at Brighton University, Lewis went on to the Turps Banana painting course, where he felt he had gained a ‘bigger pool of sources by living longer and having more life experiences’. He often paints about happenings in his own life, including an unfortunate episode where he ran into some trouble in Brighton.
He’s even names one of his pieces ‘Bow Bells’, presumably after the pub just a short walk from the studios on Bow Road, and a well-visited place by many of our artists who have studios here.
Unlike many artists, Lewis is not represented by a gallery, although this does not mean he falls short of buyers or exhibition opportunities. This, he says, is entirely through choice:
You work so hard to make a living as an artist, for one reason: to be free. If you allow a gallery, collector or anyone else to influence your work then you’ve worked so hard and struggled for nothing.
Lewis was selected as part of the Jerwood in 2016; a pivotal moment in his career. Here is where he learnt how to work with galleries and curators through mentorships and structure:
The Jerwood was, for me, a leap from feeling like a hobbyist to a professional painter.
The advice Lewis would give to artists today is a cacophony of realisations he has had throughout his career. For a while he worked as a technician for Damien Hirst and ended up almost falling asleep on the job. It was at this point he vowed to never employ a fellow artist as an assistant as he claims it ‘took the heart and joy out of art; it was shocking and sad.’ He stresses the importance of reinvesting those first few triumphs (sales, commissions or grants) immediately back into your practice. It is there he claims, that you will begin to find a rhythm and go deeper into your work.
Work hard and don’t waste time. Don’t give up but do have regular reality checks with yourself and ask yourself- where does your work fit?
You can keep up to date with Dale’s work and exhibitions on his website here: www.dalelewis.co.uk