Mark Lewis’s films of natural and urban landscapes on show at the Daniel Faria Gallery

Currently on show at Toronto’s Daniel Faria Gallery from September 11-November 1, 2014 is recent work by acclaimed Canadian-born artist Mark Lewis.

Lewis is known for his short but hypnotic silent films. Trained in photography, Lewis posits film through myriad historical references such as painting, photography and cinema. In his moving images narrative becomes secondary, allowing for reflection on the act of vision: natural or urban landscapes, as well as genre scenes, lend themselves to composition. Brief glances are discarded in favour of long shots. The sites and the actions that take place within them, result in the production of spontaneous narratives. Balanced between stasis and movement, Lewis’s films often highlight “non-places” or the ubiquities of the everyday.

Above and Below the Minhocão (2014) surveys The Minhocão, an elevated overpass located in São Paulo, Brazil. The Minhocão is closed off to vehicular traffic on Sundays, allowing for unobstructed pedestrian movement. Above and Below the Minhocão not only pans the road but also below the overpass, and into an adjoining courtyard and neighbouring sidewalks. Continuity in the work is provided not only by The Minhocão but by the characters inhabiting the film – a couple standing in the middle of the thoroughfare, a man talking on his mobile, people on bicycles passing through – but also by an adjacent black-and-white mosaic sidewalk and the road itself.

In contrast, Observation in Cheorwon Country (2014) is set in Cheorwon, a rural area that passed back and forth between North and South Korea following the country’s division after World War II, but is now itself split between the two nations. Lewis’s film is shot in the South, beginning with its focus on a pebble-strewn corrugated metal roof. The camera slowly pans out, surveying barren trees, valleys and farmland. Eventually, the viewer is presented with hills that have been modified, cut away and built upon; remnants of military trenches built up of rubber tires and concealed by grass and dirt – relics of the Cold War. Lewis’s camera is finally brought to rest on a nearby observation deck, located at the Cheorwan Peace Observatory. A group of people looks out, surveying the view of natural habitat, farmland and demilitarized territory. The cultural tourists, seemingly observing a history, are themselves still existent in a highly regulated milieu.

Mark Lewis (b. 1958 in Hamilton, Ontario) currently lives and works in London, UK. Lewis attended Harrow College of Art in London and the Polytechnic of Central London, and began his career as a photographer before moving into film. He has had numerous solo shows in museums around the world, such as BFI Southbank (London), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto) and the Musée d’art Moderne (Luxembourg). In 2009, Lewis represented Canada in the 53rd Venice Biennale, curated by Barbara Fischer. Currently, Lewis is included in the Sao Paulo Biennial, Brazil (2014) and REAL DMZ project, Korea. This fall Lewis has a solo exhibition at the Louvre, Paris. Lewis’ work is found in the collections of Museum of Modern Art, New York; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Centre Pompidou – Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris; Hammer Museum, Los Angles; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; and Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver.

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