Arts: Unconventional Portraiture

Her unconventional portraiture emphasizes messy beauty

Valerie LewisPainter, teacher, and curator Valerie Lewis’ joyous, chaotic, Gerhard Richter-grungy canvases aren’t beautiful in the conventional sense. As an aficionado of clear-eyed, bluntly honest British painters Jenny Saville and Lucian Freud, the artist says: “I don’t want my paintings to be precious and delicate. I want them to be lived in and rich with time and honest humanity.

“We are not pretty things.” “Bouquet,” at right, proves her point. Eschewing traditional ideals of beauty, she found soul not in a waxed, worked-out Greek god bod, but in the more realistically fleshy, furry Dad bod of Hibbleton Gallery co-owner Jesse La Tour.

"Bouquet" by Valerie LewisReveling in a delightful mix of masculine and feminine, the details make the work a tender provocation—brash midriff-baring La Tour; the surrealist war of the painted roses with their deep reds, and almost transparent whites; the ugly, pock-marked wall suggesting bullet holes; his child-like, I-just-noticed-someone-is-painting-me pose, and the tall beer can in hand, tilting out of frame. “You call them loved ones; often they aren’t, until after (they’ve been) painted. It’s a process of closeness.”


See It! An exhibition of Lewis’ work, “In Real Life,” opens April 1 at Hibbleton Gallery, 223 W. Santa Fe Ave., Fullerton, 951-316-2079, Follow Lewis on Instagram @pluttifikation and visit her website

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