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Aspen Art Museum


Spencer Lewis

Acrylic, oil, enamel, spray paint and ink on jute
84 x 63 by x ¾ in. (213.4 x 160 x 4.4 cm)
Kindly donated by the artist and Josh Lilley
Estimate: $70,000–$90,000

About this Work

There is an explosive energy to Spencer Lewis’s paintings. Working with mixed media on either jute or cardboard, Lewis himself speaks of attacking the surface. The violence of his mark-making is augmented by dragging and throwing the jute around the studio, imbuing the work with a sense of raw dynamism.

Born in 1979 in Hartford, CT, Lewis studied first at Rhode Island School of Design, before completing an MFA at the University of California, Los Angeles—where he continues to live and work. The traces of an interest in postwar abstraction that began in Lewis’s youth are evident throughout his work; Hans Hofmann and Joan Mitchell come to mind, amongst others. However, writing in Mousse in 2022, Ben Street observes: “Easy as it is to see his paintings as straightforwardly inhabiting the territory of mid-century abstract painting, to do so would be to miss their play with its tropes.” He goes on to add that “Lewis marshals the trappings of modernist authenticity”, not in an attempt to subvert but instead “to prod them for signs of life”.

Dense layers of vibrant strokes, emerge from the center of each canvas to form an unruly, abstract mass, in which each mark is seemingly vying for space, fighting for dominance. Wide and narrow lines and patches of yellow, orange, blue, green and pink crackle with energy atop the grungy brown ground of the natural jute or its paint-saturated surface. Speaking on the Deep Color podcast in February last year, Lewis commented, “part of being an artist is being opportunistic”. In his paintings this translates to an innate sense of freedom, and a visual expression of an internal struggle to be in the moment and seize the opportunities it brings.

About the Artist

Spencer Lewis (b. 1979, Hartford, CT, lives and works in Los Angeles). Throughout his career, Lewis has worked with jute, cardboard, bronze and assemblage; often with paint and always with space. Space, how to negotiate it, imply it or fill it, is the purpose of a practice that is as much interested in the intervention a painting poses within a given environment as the painting itself. In his Los Angeles studio Lewis explores this space, pinning it to canvas, assembling dynamically painted windows into a plain of intersecting marks, arching and thrashing to form billowing compositions of rich colour. Whilst his works may range in scale, a raw physicality abounds throughout the brute lines of oil, acrylic, enamel and ink smeared, struck and scooped onto a weathered, giving surface. Whether rendered in hazy mists, neon slashes or fibrous folds, Lewis’ mark making is unbridled, his palette always expanding.

Spencer Lewis received his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2001 and his MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2008.

How to Bid:

Bidding on this work takes place at the ArtCrush gala on Friday, August 4th, at 8pm MT. Absentee and telephone bidding available - please contact for more information, including a condition report.

There is no Buyer’s Premium and the difference between the mid-estimate and the winning bid is a tax deductible donation to the museum.