Peter Lewis: T1+2 Gallery

By Williams, Gilda | Artforum International, November 2007 | Go to article overview

Peter Lewis: T1+2 Gallery


Williams, Gilda, Artforum International


Twenty-one large paintings on newspaper, containing hundreds of small images, hung salon-style on the gallery's thirty-foot back wall. Made over a one-year period and completely concealing the newsprint underneath, the paintings together looked like a vast storyboard or endless comic strip. Many of their small images contain figures in landscapes--sometimes seen from a great distance, sometimes from up close, as in a film by Antonioni, in which tiny unrecognizable figures seen from afar reappear in extreme close-up; the Greek-inspired structures, with their white surfaces and geometric colonnades, look like samples of high modernism.

The exhibition "Meno {2:1}" was loosely inspired by the Meno, one of Plato's early dialogues. Playing in the background was a reading of the dialogue itself, performed and recorded before the opening, with its sound doubled to create an echo and set to the jazz singing of Jimmy Scott--transforming the text into an indistinguishable overlap of cultures emanating from a disembodied voice. This text is a quintessential Socratic exchange that, rather than resolving the intellectual/ethical question at hand--Can virtue be taught?--serves primarily to expose and undercut the interlocutors' preconceptions, revealing the persistence of doubt and the limits of knowledge. To get to Peter Lewis's wall of painted Platonic images one had to pass through a curtain of ordinary newspapers hung from the ceiling in the middle of the gallery, with their usual headlines about the instability of world financial markets, threats of terrorism, murders, and corporate mergers. There is little in the daily paper of the sustained face-to-face debate, the slow unraveling of an argument, the lengthy teasing-out of an idea enacted in Plato's script--just plenty of tragic faits accomplis.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

"Meno {2:1}" expertly combined multiple media--painting, drawing, installation, film, sound, and performance--just as it mixed geographies (Eastern and Western) and time frames (ancient history, modernity, current events). …

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