They’ll creep you out, gaze at you through multiple eyes and ignore you completely, backs turned: bodies within hollowed bodies, fragmented faces and dislocated limbs. Lewis Hammond’s work is teething with them.
His eerie, enchanting paintings are created from elegant, murky lashings of oil on canvas and linen. Large in scale, Host (2017) is emblematic of his virtuosity in the medium: it depicts a pained, kneeling man on a stage, shedding a thick layer of skin – along with excess ‘fleshy innards’ – in a sickly palette. Evocative of the eldritch souls who haunt the works of Francisco de Goya, Hammond skews and melts art-historical forms and motifs, human and non-human subjects, as fluidly as his brushstrokes.
In Fuckboy (2018), geometric lines and shading create a gentle illusion of a recess, inside which a dark hand clasps a faded red rose. References to 16th-century Venice abound in his series of ‘triple portraits’: Titian metamorphoses into the present in I’ve Grown Used to You Somehow (2018). A triad of severed, Alien-like facial features surface from burgundy, green and kohl shadows; mottled and smudged across the backdrop.
Seemingly otherworldly, his subjects, Hammond tells me, are actually the counterpoint. A collision of literary inspirations, the 1980s British punk-band ephemera he grew up with and even BDSM clothing render the real, estranged personalities of our present perturbing, alluring; exquisite.
Lewis Hammond's first solo show will open at Arcadia Missa, London, on 23rd February 2019.
First published in Issue 200