David Dodge Lewis




In the recent and continuing Evolution Series, I treat a topic fundamental to our understanding of life by celebrating fossils, the most important empirical evidence for evolution. Since fossils are often of bones, the paintings are eulogies, and the inclusion of flowers both emphasizes the fragile brevity of life and connects to present day rituals, like flowers at a memorial service. Some of the work takes the memento mori theme further to remind the viewer that all species eventually face extinction.

The series allows me to paint using a medley of effects, from illusionism, abstraction, non-figuration, and conceptualism to indirect, direct, alla prima, and accidental applications, aimed at suggesting both the evolution of painting and the importance of randomness in the evolutionary process.

What does The Evolution Series have to do with evolution? For the literal-minded, the answer may be a disappointment, as the associations are sometimes only tenuous: For instance, what might a Tyrannosaurus rex skull and a parrot tulip have in common besides the aesthetic of jagged edges? T. rex was a theropod dinosaur, the group from which birds (including parrots) are currently assumed to have evolved. Pretty thin. But these are also paintings -- careful arrangements of color, line, texture -- and the variety of these echo particular periods in the evolution of painting. (Parrot tulips were popular in 17th century Dutch still-life paintings; drips are late 20th century.)