Review – ‘My Little Empire’ show, Ink, 14 July 2011, by Margi MacMurdo-Reading

show-inkreviewPeter Lewis should be famous by now.

Certain of his works should be made into repeated patterns as wallpaper for the children of weirdly hip parents, and gift -wrap for those in the know of what looks really cool. Lewis’ works are painstakingly assembled collages made from other publications, such as vintage encyclopedias, magazines, comic books and catalogues.

Peter removes the images from their original context, and reassembles them thereby re-contextualizing them into the most amusing and bizarre dream-like images. This is the thing about them, the works are quite reminiscent of the stuff your brain offloads right before you fall asleep – those jumble of images and settings and stories that seem to escape like bubbles from champagne into the neuro- nether-world of confused memories. Walking through the crowd of people at the opening, all of whom have their faces pressed as close as possible to the very small works, you can hear them muttering recognition of a sort in giggles and whispers. “Oh look, there’s Jon and Ponch from CHiPs!”, or “Is that Betty Grable?”

Everything looks slightly familiar, but this fond familiarity breeds a feeling of being “content” rather than contempt.

Some of the pieces have a deep black background with child-friendly images brightly scattered in mandala-like patterns applied on top. These resonate so deeply with me – once again in that moment of childhood bedtime just before you fall asleep to dream pleasant, but very odd dreams that are in no way scary, and in some way have the possibility of being a reality you could live in upon awakening.

The show is now over, but go to Peter’s website: www.warpart.co.nz and have a look, and then do what I did – BUY ONE or TWO – they’re small and perfect.