Amani Lewis - New Now London Tuesday, July 13, 2021 | Phillips

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  • 'The portraits I paint have to do with following the lines and characteristics of my subject’s body that makes them the person who they are- while also mapping the lineage of that person to the likeness of a topographical map.'
    —Amani Lewis 

    Creating a layered vibrant surface that is alive with line, depth, form, glitter, colour and shimmer, Amani Lewis’s energetic scenes draws the viewer close, creating a bridge to a renewed perspective of the Black experience. Growing up in Columbia, Maryland, in a predominantly white new-suburban town, Lewis moved to Baltimore to study at the Maryland Institute College of Art where ‘Black people made up most of my community.'i The change profoundly affected and challenged the artist’s self-identity. Lewis began exploring a narrative in their work, reflecting on the lives of the local people in Baltimore. 


    Between 1916-1970, ‘The Great Migration’ was a period of movement where African Americans relocated to cities like Baltimore in search of relief from racial discrimination. Amani notes, ‘My work speaks to the inherent power, beauty and culture that make up Baltimore, that lies within the fibers and roots of the city, its people and their history… My paintings and the resources I garner as an artist work towards shifting the dominant narrative of Baltimore to hold the people and the complexity of our stories at the forefront.’ii


    Analogous to the roads and lines on a map, Lewis uses a continuous line technique to define the contours of their subject’s bodies, clothing and surroundings. The process creates a physical and visual connection between each element and highlights how our viewing experience is usually manipulated and controlled. The viewer is invited to step away from the customary cycle and piece together the full story. The artist comments, ‘I begin with found and original photography of quotidian life in Baltimore, and then layer on expressive contour lines, a process that shifts the viewer’s focus away from the reality of the lives and circumstances of my subjects. In creating a visual cacophony, I compel the viewer to look closer, to hone in on distinct pockets of the canvas, and in the process, uncover aspects of the narrative that are seemingly—and perhaps willingly—overlooked.’iii As exemplified in Azarri, the contrasting, non-naturalistic colours, similar to those found in a heat map, lead the viewers eye around the dynamic surface, encouraging a close examination. Amani Lewis’s works emanate a powerfully expressive narrative, a glowing aura, a mapping of the soul and a retelling of history from their perspective for the Black community. 

    i Amani Lewis quoted in Amani Lewis, De Buck Gallery, online 
    ii Amani Lewis quoted in, Amani Lewis, online  
    iii Amani Lewis quoted in Amani Lewis, De Buck Gallery, online

    • Provenance

      De Buck Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner



Azarri in Green

signed, titled and dated 'Azarri in Green Amani Lewis 2019' on the reverse
acrylic, glitter, paper collage and digital print on canvas
150.2 x 127.2 cm (59 1/8 x 50 1/8 in.)
Executed in 2019.

Full Cataloguing

£15,000 - 20,000 

Sold for £65,520

Contact Specialist

Simon Tovey
Head of New Now Sale
+44 20 7318 4084

New Now

London Auction 13 July 2021