Mike Davis & Henry Lewis
March 2 - April 13, 2013
Scroll down to view the show catalog, artwork images, and contact the gallery for purchase info.
We're very excited to present new works in oil on panel by two stellar San Francisco artists Mike Davis and Henry Lewis. They each separate their fine art with painterly skills from their work as tattoo artists, and have earned well deserved acclaim for both. Although they each possess signature styles, Mike Davis and Henry Lewis both debut new series of works for this show that “move toward the light” side of the dark worlds they expose on the panel.
Mike Davis' current museum show "Hey! Modern Art & Pop Culture Part II" features four of his paintings alongside other renowned contemporary American artists. As a pop surrealist, he is a self-taught fine artist with a fascinating personal iconography. Henry Lewis exposes the warrior essence of his subjects, conveying their victories, tragedies and triumphs. Using his signature symbolism of armor and weaponry, he passionately depicts the inherent fragility of humanity and the individual’s ability to overcome adversity. Although Henry Lewis has shown extensively, this is his first exhibit at Varnish.
Being a tattooer has really been my art school… it has forced me to draw constantly and think about the fundamentals. – Mike Davis
Inspired by the Northern Renaissance masters and 1960’s/70’s album art, Mike Davis paints symbolic narratives that tell a tale from the artist’s own life. They may depict a vulnerable passage, a breakup or a middle-of-the-night fear. The very specific and purposefully placed symbols in each work are a part of Davis’ personal lexicon, developed over time to speak to his own experiences. There are many ways to interpret the works, often shadowed by our own histories. The truth of the piece may never be revealed, but the exquisite details and humor in the face of grim circumstances offer the viewer a glimpse into Davis’ very soul.
Since I could hold a trumpet… I knew that art was gonna be the life and death of me. – Henry Lewis
Born into a musical and artistic home, Henry Lewis embraced fine art as a way to deal with the tragedies and triumphs of life. His works are filled with armored subjects wielding ancient weapons; protecting their fragile forms from the outside world and their own inner demons. Though the iconography is ancient, the subjects are modern and the weapons are used not only to protect, but to regain power lost through the travails of life. Through his expressive and evocative brushwork, Henry uses familiar symbols and mythological references to expose his own truths as well as the viewer’s.
Mike Davis renders complex narrative medieval scenes embedded with his personal symbolic system signifying mortality, folly, and hubris, within whimsical and mysterious compositions. Ancient art, Dutch genre painting and artwork of the Northern Renaissance heavily influence his work which is additionally informed by his twenty year career as an internationally renowned tattoo artist. Davis currently lives and works in San Francisco, California where, in addition to painting, he owns and operates his tattoo shop Everlasting Tattoo.
The works of Henry Lewis are filled with observations on the human condition. Baroque filigree, Romanesque armor and symbolic creatures tell tales of struggle and strength made universal, presenting us with characters and scenes that bring to mind mythological tales of kings, queens and warriors, battle scarred and wounded, but made the better and stronger for all their vulnerabilities. Born in Pasadena, California in 1977, Lewis moved to San Francisco in 2000 to pursue a career in tattooing, illustration, and painting. Lewis has worked as a tattooer for the past 14 years currently works at Skull & Sword Tattoo. He has exhibited at galleries nationwide and continues to live and work in San Francisco.