Vivienne Lewin is a South African born artist living in Hampstead. She completed the City Lit Fine Art course in 2017.
Being near Hampstead Heath, she spends much time walking, sketching, photographing, and generally observing on the Heath, particularly in the woods and glades. She is particularly drawn by visual atmosphere and how the sense of space impinges on the emotional experience of a place. In her paintings she explores how she can use colour in all its tonalities, and mark-making of different kinds, to create an emotional sense of place and mood. She loves to work with oil paints because of their versatility and subtlety, as well as the strength of the pigment they contain.
In her recent work, she used from small photographic images of a solitary spot on Hampstead Heath, quiet, still and meditative, that she encountered on a misty morning. She tried to capture the atmosphere of the beech glade and to translate this into semi-abstract paintings varying in size from contact-print size, to post-card size, and large canvases. Her focus has been directed more towards process rather than narrative. In working from very small to large and different shaped canvases, she has tried to establish a colour-script to express her experience of the place. She has varied her application of paint and medium to move towards a more minimalist and evocative visual picture of the atmosphere of the place.
She also works with print-making, monoprints, etching and lino-cutting, using other media to explore and show her experience of the beech glade. She has been influenced by Japanese printmaking, especially the clarity of line and image. She has made lino-prints of the mystical glade that she has painted.
Her work with lino-prints has also focused on biblical stories, particularly the story of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt as told each year at Passover.
Her latest paintings focus on pathways.
Paths in the woods offer many possibilities and choices, reflecting the opportunities taken and missed in our lives. They may be inviting or menacing; dark and winding, or wide and sunlit. We traverse them in hope, and take the risk of not reaching our destination. We feel both embraced or threatened by the nature and prospect of the path.
In these new paintings, some very small, others very large, she explores the atmosphere and experiences of walking in the woods along paths known and unknown, quiet and meditative, or mysterious and unsettling. The same path becomes new in an altered light, at a different time, and in a new mood. As with the changing light and seasons, colours change the experience of the paths through the woods and our lives.
She has been inspired not only by her visual experiences of the woods and journeys through them, but also by the words of the poets who write about paths as journeys and experiences of life.
“Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose garden.”
(T S Eliot: Four Quartets)
Preview of recent solo exhibition at Burgh House & Hampstead Museum, London