Profile

Peter Lewis, collage artistI have been mutating, mutilating and reconfiguring popular culture and its images since 1990. Much to the consternation of my mother, more than one school report observed that I was “off in a world of my own”. To be frank I found immersion in the world of the imagination to be much more captivating than learning maths on a hot summer afternoon, and I still feel that way now.

My work is all about other worlds and realities; I’m very interested in what these might be like. I also have an enduring interest in the world of dreams and how they can be self-contained yet also be populated with characters and objects from waking life. The untethered mind will come up with some crazy recipes using familiar ingredients!

I try to translate this into my work by taking recognisable or familiar images and recontextualising them, placing them in new environments to give them the ambiguous suggestion of symbolic significance. The result, I hope, is what a friend of mine once referred to as “a mixed-up world of meaning and non-meaning”. The viewer is encouraged to find their own interpretation of each piece.

Another key theme of my work is layers: literal layers of images cut and pasted into the collages themselves, as well as layers of meaning – on one level they are mandala-like patterns of images, on another level an amusing and /or cute picture, and one another level sometimes a wry social commentary.

I like to think that viewers can appreciate my work on any or all of these levels, and I try to pack them with lots of detail to reward careful and patient inspection. Examples of this include a clown and a kitten driving a moon buggy, Jesus dribbling strawberries like basketballs, and Abraham Lincoln’s head on a duck (a deliberate nod to the artist Mark Ryden). I’m very much inspired by Stephen Biesty’s “Cross Sections” books, which were packed with a wealth of intricate detail that I spent many happy hours poring over as a kid.

My work has been featured on CD covers in New Zealand, the US and the UK. I have been profiled in San Francisco art magazine Churn and New York art / fashion magazine Fifth Avenue. I have exhibited pieces throughout New Zealand, in Germany and Sweden, and briefly – and very much unofficially – beside an Andy Warhol piece at the Museum Of Modern Art in New York.

In January 2010, I was profiled by NZ arts show ‘The Gravy’ for their episode entitled “Time Travel / Future Worlds “. You can watch the clip here.

A selection of my work was included in the book “Masters: Collage. Major Works by Leading Artists” published by US art publisher Lark Books in June 2010.

In 2013 I was fortunate enough to travel to the US for a couple of exhibitions: in Portland Oregon, with Seattle collagist Marty Gordon, and with the legendary Winston Smith in San Francisco! It really was a dream come true and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my friends and family who contributed to my trip via crowdfunding site Indiegogo.

Reviews

‘This World Is Your Oyster’ show – Critic magazine, 5 October 2014
‘This World Is Your Oyster’ show – Otago Daily Times, 25 September 2014
‘My Little Empire’ show – Otago Daily Times, 14 July 2011
‘My Little Empire’ show – Ink, 14 July 2011
‘My Little Empire’ show – D-Scene, 6 July 2011 (promo)
‘Scalpelicious’ show – Salient magazine, 11 September 2006
‘Scalpelicious’ show – Capital Times, 31 August 2006
‘Scalpelicious’ show – The Star, 31 August 2006 (promo)
‘Postcard From Cutesville’ show – Otago Daily Times, 1 June 2006
‘The Best Of Both Worlds’ show – Otago Daily Times, 18 March 2004
‘The Best Of Both Worlds’ show – Critic magazine, 22 March 2004

Solo Shows

‘This World is Your Oyster’, Mint Gallery, Dunedin NZ – September 2014
‘Masters of the Glue-niverse’ (with Marty Gordon) – Gallery 6 PDX, Portland OR, USA – December 2013
‘Fiendish Comix’ – DUD Comics, Port Chalmers NZ – September 2013
‘My Little Empire’ – None Gallery, Dunedin NZ – July 2011
‘My Little Empire’ – ROAR! Gallery, Wellington NZ – February 2011
‘”Seven Days” series and other works’ – Modaks Cafe, Dunedin NZ – September 2009
‘”Seven Days” series and other works’ – Visual Intelligence Tattoo Studio, Dunedin NZ – June 2009
‘Untitled’ – Design Withdrawals, Palmerston NZ – September 2008
‘Untitled’ – Vent Creative Outlet, Port Chalmers NZ – October 2006
‘Scalpelicious’ – ROAR! Gallery, Wellington NZ – September 2006
‘Postcard From Cutesville’ – Cleveland Living Arts Centre, Dunedin NZ – May / June 2006
Tangente Cafe, Dunedin NZ – April 2005
The Strip Gallery, Dunedin NZ – December 2004
Dunedin City Council Offices, Dunedin NZ – December 2004
Tanya Carlson Designer Waiting Room, Dunedin NZ – October / November 2004
Percolator Cafe, Dunedin NZ – May / June 2004
‘The Best of Both Worlds’ – Introspect Gallery, Dunedin NZ – March 2004

Group Shows

Rude, Glued and Screwed’ – Collage Museum Of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA – November 2013
‘Paper Cuts’ – Bruce Studio Project Space, Dunedin NZ – October 2013
‘The Coloring BOOK Show’ – Eve-N-Odd Gallery, St Petersburg, FL, USA – June 2012
‘Playing With A Full Deck’ – Gallery 6 PDX, Portland OR, USA – May 2012
‘Mix and Match’ – Conway MA, USA – January 2012
‘Mix and Match’ – Bucharest, Romania – December 2011
New Zealand Art Show – Wellington NZ – August 2010
The Original Art Show – Auckland NZ – July 2006
Affordable Art Show – Wellington NZ – July 2005
‘Comix et al’ – Cleveland Living Arts Centre, Dunedin NZ – July 2005
The Original Art Show – Auckland NZ – July 2005
Affordable Art Show – Wellington NZ – July 2004
Various monthly shows – Arc Cafe, Dunedin NZ – 2003 – 2004

Interviews

Phantasmaphile, March 2006
The Extra Finger, 19 July 2006
Radio One, Dunedin NZ, 23 May 2006 (mp3 file, 1.9MB):