Growing up as Yelena Lewis’ daughter I often found myself flipping through William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience where other young people might have been watching Shrek 2 in the Balexert cinema: no one was more excited then I when it was learned that my mother had begun her work upon her infamous Blake series, or more thrilled when it became apparent that these works of art were to deliver far more than they initially promised. I shall remain eternally grateful to Mr. Blake for all the endless sources of inspiration he shared with Yelena, who seems truly to have found her own style in learning from his. It is a unique style that has emerged very slowly through her oils and mixed medium paintings after years of patient study and experimentation, a single delicate thread spins its gentle way through all her work, one that I have admired from my early childhood to this very day. This exhibition displays some of the most important works in Yelena’s personal evolution – her Annunciation series, though initially centered upon biblical subject matter is in fact a highly personal and somewhat satirical statement, one that touches upon cultural issues, sociological limitations, and themes of isolation and loneliness. Her spectacular Winter is one that I have often wondered through in the snow covered country roads of my own blissful memories. Her Saint Petersburg portrays a moving vision of a beautiful and enigmatic country she left behind long ago. Her Pan is brought to life by the heartbreaking, ancient eyes of a mythological creature gazing into a high-tech world that has long since moved on, and is such a profoundly intimate painting to me that I can hardly write of it completely, even here. Her Fire-Starter, perhaps her most significant piece so far, is a spectacular tribute to her sister, one that shall continue to burn ever more brightly in my own mind for years to come.
Mr. Wilde once wrote that “the artist is the creator of beautiful things”, and I would like now to thank Yelena for the positively stunning things collected here today, as well as for the company of the beautiful artist that produced them all. I am not alone in my appreciation; she has touched many a life with her art, her kindness and her words.
I wish her all the luck and success possible and hope only that the rest of her audience may some day be awarded the smallest glimpse of what I see.
- Yelena Lewis
- Having been born and bred in the Russia of the pre-Perestroika era left me with the great gift of emotional dependence upon family and friends, as well as the advantages of a cheerful disrespect for any sort of propoganda or any kind of authority. I've recieved my education in Brezhnev's Russia and Blair's Britain and have lived in Moscow in the USSR, Newcastle on Tyne and London in Britain, Eindhoven in the Netherlands, Geneva in Switzerland before settling down in France. I feel I have a few stories to tell combined with a strong desire for an audience: the resulting hot-pot can be found in my paintings, some of which are found on this website. It gives me great pleasure to work in different styles, as it signifies fun and freedom, the qualities greatly appriciated by anybody who, like me, has had an experience of a totalitarian upbringing. Similarly, I use any medium available to paint with: oil, watercolours, gouache, charcoal, pure pigments, pencil, ink, pastel, acril - anything! - and on any support: paper, wood panels, cardboard, canvass, etc.