Ross Lewis

Ross Lewis is an American artist and arts educator who is internationally known for creating art that engages with the Chinese literati tradition. With a deep-seated fascination for China and its culture, in his twenties Lewis began studying Chinese landscape painting, calligraphy, under the tutelage of notable artist/collector C.C. Wang in New York. Lewis’ interest in Chinese art, history, and Mandarin language, brought him to China and Taiwan, where he studied mounting at the National Palace Museum, and over the course of a decade he had the rare opportunity to visit and exchange ideas with some of the modern masters of Chinese painting, such as Lu Yanshao, Li Keran, Zhu Qizhan, and Cheng Shifa. As a result of these experiences, Lewis has come to develop a distinct visual language, which bridges key aesthetic and philosophical sensibilities of the Eastern artistic traditions to his Western context.

Transcending categorization by assimilating his training in both Western and Chinese painting, Lewis is now recognized for breaking new, universal ground in his artwork that evokes both traditions. In recent years, he has departed from the conventional use of the Chinese brush in the development of his Rope Painting Series, using instead an ink-soaked rope as his primary means of marking the paper surface. Richly textured and full of energy, Lewis’ rope paintings are a dazzling panoply of social, aesthetic and art-historical meaning. A personal diary of experiences, these paintings take on towering dimensions yet still evoke the subtle and sophisticated brushwork of literati painting. By developing these works into installation art, Lewis has been able to translate traditional literati concepts beyond the intimate personal space of ink painting, and into the public realm.

Ross Lewis’ first major academic solo exhibition in China, "Dancing with Rope", was held at Beijing's Today Art Museum in the Summer of 2015 and curated by distinguished art historian Dr. Shen Kuiyi. “Dancing with Rope” showcased approximately fifty works by the artist, including: his most recent “Rope Painting” series, a video installation of the artist’s monumental “Scroll Machine”, Lewis’ Chinese-landscape inspired paintings, archival materials of Lewis’ early studies with Chinese painters in Taiwan and China, as well as photographs and videos of Lewis’ installation projects from around the world. The exhibition was sponsored by the Embassy of the United States, Beijing. The exhibition traveled to the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute Museum in Chongqing and the Redtory Museum of Contemporary Art in Guangzhou in the Fall/Winter of 2015.

New York-based Ross Lewis received a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Oberlin College and an M.F.A. from Brooklyn College. Years of studying Chinese art and culture have led artist Ross Lewis to develop a distinct visual language that incorporates both Western and Chinese artistic traditions.  In addition to being well-exhibited in the US and abroad, Lewis’ has undertaken a variety of public art exhibitions including temporary and permanent commissions such as Parallel Motion, a 30 meter-long mural in Battery Park City; Dancing in Pink Snow, a mixed-media installation in a 19th century horse stable in Berlin, Germany; and Urban Intersections, a 24 by 7.3 meter-high wall mural composed of 500,000 pieces of glass and ceramic tiles at PS 307 in Queens, New York. While maintaining a high profile of exhibitions worldwide, Lewis is also a dedicated teacher. He has been involved in teaching at various schools and art communities, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute and Rutgers University, Newark, NJ.  Ross Lewis’ artistic practice underscores the creativity that derives from cross-cultural influences.