Peter Wayne Lewis & Frederick J. Brown

2016.1.15 - 2016.3.13 Nave and Long Gallery

By UCCA Center for Contemporary Art

Ullens Center for Contemporary Art

"Peter Wayne Lewis & Frederick J. Brown" Installation view 4 (2016)UCCA Center for Contemporary Art

From 14 January to 13 March, 2016, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) presents two parallel exhibitions showcasing the works of Peter Wayne Lewis and Frederick J. Brown (1945-2012), two artists of the African diaspora whose expressive paintings draw inspiration from their respective cultural backgrounds and shared interest in jazz and spirituality.

"Peter Wayne Lewis & Frederick J. Brown" Installation view 9 (2016)UCCA Center for Contemporary Art

Both artists’ curious connections with Beijing—for the past decade Lewis has made most of his work here, while Brown became in 1988 the first American artist to show at the institution now known as the National Museum of China—are also reflected on their canvases. Exploring distinct modes of abstraction, the two groupings of works create a dialogue through vibrant collisions of brushwork and color, rhythm and melody.

False Vacuum 1/6 (2015) by Peter Wayne LewisUCCA Center for Contemporary Art

Peter Wayne Lewis: Boosters

Since 2006, Peter Wayne Lewis has painted from a studio he calls The Oasis on Beijing’s northern fringes. This exhibition centers on two major suites, each comprising fifteen paintings, in which his particular language of abstraction takes new and unexpected turns inspired by sources as varied as quantum physics and the music of Thelonious Monk.

False Vacuum 4/6 (2015) by Peter Wayne LewisUCCA Center for Contemporary Art

“There is an idea in string theory that all matter exists as vibrating strings moving in multiple dimensions. This idea links physics to my great love, music. The vibration of the strings creates harmony…the universe is a symphony of color and light and different time signatures,” Lewis has said.

False Vacuum 6/6 (2015) by Peter Wayne LewisUCCA Center for Contemporary Art

Titled “Monk Time Suite” (2013) and “Buddha Plays Monk” (2012-2015), they were produced across Lewis’s repeated and extended sojourns in China. This exhibition, the first time these works have been shown publicly, makes use of the high walls of UCCA’s Nave to display the groupings in massive grids. They are complemented by further recent works, particularly a cycle of six paintings titled “False Vacuum” (2015) inspired by the ideas of MIT physicist Alan Guth.

"Peter Wayne Lewis & Frederick J. Brown" Installation view 6 (2016)UCCA Center for Contemporary Art

Frederick J. Brown: Memories 1988

Working in a loft in SoHo during the artistic renaissance of the 1970s and 1980s, Frederick J. Brown collaborated with jazz musicians like Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk, and Anthony Braxton, as well as Abstract Expressionist painter Willem de Kooning.

Inn Space (Courage & Salvation) (1980) by Frederick J. BrownUCCA Center for Contemporary Art

This grouping of works presents a range of painterly investigations embodying religious themes (Easter at Dinner Time, Easter Morning) tinged with early childhood memories (School Yard).

Easter at Dinner Time (1972) by Frederick J. BrownUCCA Center for Contemporary Art

When Brown exhibited at the Museum of the Chinese Revolution (now the National Museum of China) on Tiananmen Square in the spring of 1988, his work was eagerly received and debated by artists and students for its vivid expressionistic sensibility. Revising these works in the same city nearly thirty years later helps to shed light on a little known moment of exchange during the artistic awakening of the Chinese 1980s.

First Opening (1970/1972) by Frederick J. BrownUCCA Center for Contemporary Art

Frederick J. Brown’s (1945-2012) work is in public and private collections throughout the world, including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the New Orleans Museum of Art. Born in Georgia and educated in Chicago, he was influenced by an early exposure to Modern masters and taught at the Central Academy of Arts and Crafts, Beijing, from 1985 to 1987. Best known for a series of portraits depicting jazz and blues legends, Brown remains an influential figure in American painting.

"Peter Wayne Lewis & Frederick J. Brown" Installation view 1 (2016)UCCA Center for Contemporary Art

Peter Wayne Lewis (b. 1953, Jamaica) is professor of painting at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. He lives and works between Beijing, Boston, and South Orange, New Jersey. His solo exhibition “Beijing Booster” was held at MOCA North Miami in 2015. Lewis’s recent exhibitions include: “Latin American Art Today” (Promo-Arte, Tokyo, 2014); the 5th Beijing International Art Biennale (National Art Museum of China, 2012); and “Seeing Jazz Exhibition” (Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1997). His works are part of major public and private collections internationally.

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