Jill Lewis conjures fragmentary, dream-like moments on canvas through multi-layered negotiations that translate into a sense of the familiar. The viewer is embroiled in a pictorial journey, at once candidly child-like and extraordinarily sophisticated. Lewis skilfully weaves snippets of ‘everyday life’ into playful and poetic tapestries of mythological animals and fanciful objects. The result is a substantial body of work over twenty years, narrating life’s elusive and private moments on her canvases. The artist delves into ancient cultures, borrowing symbols, sacred objects and totems, then employing her iconic mythical creatures. A painterly and spontaneous mark-making technique of rich earthy hues, and gelati colour bombs, emphasise the personal metaphors and private moments underlying her stories. This lyrical and primitive universe forms a theatrical stage for her fantastical cast of bazaar creatures and characters.
Lewis reflects on the stepping-stones that resulted in her burgeoning artistic career –
Four years at RMIT with teachers including Andrew Sibley, Jan Senbergs, James Meldrum and Rick Amor imbued a requirement for some measure of toughness within the work… I learnt that superficial decoration can be pleasing, but that paintings need strong bones to succeed. Exhibiting at Roar Studios in 1984 exposed me to the Roar artists… exhilarating and stimulating… Later, having children.. watching them draw and paint… gave me a love and appreciation of the spontaneous gesture. Their intuitive free spirited drawings made my own work feel labored and restrictive, and inspired a new approach.
The artist’s formative years of keen observation and self-discovery shaped over two decades of exhibiting as well as major commissions in Queensland and Melbourne. Lewis has painted full-time to satisfy demand for her unique work having exhibited at Libby Edwards Galleries in all four galleries since 1998. Her work is represented in collections worldwide and throughout Australia.