Lesser Evils

"Lesser Evils" by Leah Lewman (submitted photo / April 11, 2014)

Identical twin sisters who have shared a lot since birth now share the Bernice Kish Gallery walls for an exhibit titled "Two Channels Off the Sea." Leah Lewman and Lyndsay Lewman separately make artworks that explore personal identity and emotional connections.

These explorations are not always on a directly autobiographical level, however, as can be seen in Leah's oil painting "The Long Goodbye." An elderly woman on one side of the composition and an elderly man on its other side reach out toward each other. Their fingers almost meet in the middle of the painting. The pensive expressions on their faces suggest they're saying goodbye for more than just the day.

Figures reach out in additional oil paintings by Leah. In "The Climb II," a woman's arms reach out into pictorial white space. Her fingers are extended in such a way that one senses her determination. We don't see the rest of this figure, though, and so it remains a generic representation of a human being reaching out.

The hands are what matter most in such paintings, of course, and so it's apt that there are some that provide close-up views of hands. Leah's "Staying I" and "II" feature hands that may be clasped in prayer or at least in an introspective manner.


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Besides these representational paintings, Leah also has work that is abstract. The mixed media painting "To Close of Day" incorporates a crumpled piece of cloth bunched at one side of the composition and painterly zones of color in the rest of it. The varied paint texture ranges from chunky to more lightly gestural; and the austere palette mostly utilizes black, white and gray.

Lyndsay, whose career is in graphic design, has figurative work that to some extent reflects the influence of Art Nouveau. The gracefully slender and curving lines that outline figures are pleasing, but it would be nice to see an even greater sense of flowing lines to animate potentially static figuration.

Questions of identity are overtly handled by Lyndsay in three related graphic prints on canvas: "Ideal Self Image," "Actual Self Image" and "Social Self Image." These black-outlined portrait heads are similar, but have some variation in pose and coloration. The figure's green eyes are striking and definitely hold your attention.

In addition to solo portraits, Lyndsay has the graphic print on canvas "Distance and Closeness," whose two female faces certainly prompt you to think about figurative twinning.

Leah and Lyndsay Lewman exhibit through May 10 at the Bernice Kish Gallery at Slayton House, 10400 Cross Fox Lane in Wilde Lake Village Center in Columbia. Call 410-730-3987 or go to http://www.wildelake.org.