The first thing to be said about Steve Lewis’s work is that it is not spurious. Its genuine sculptural quality is not something guaranteed in any way by his having learnt he has from Cubism, Gonzalez, Smith, Caro and many others, or from the steel in which he works. He could have absorbed all those influences as well as becoming the proficient technician he is and yet remained null as an artist. Lewis’s quality as a sculptor lies in his ability to animate the structure and weight of his pieces visually. He makes the sheer stuff of his art dance. That might seem an odd word to use in the light of some of Lewis’s less mouvemente pieces but if you broaden the word to take in, for instance, the rocking of boat tied to a quay or even the kind of presence a docked liner has: still for the moment but resonant of voyage, then my remark holds. He imbues his material with a kind of music.
A factor is his ability to use colour to enhance feeling. Colour applied in abstract sculpture often looks arbitrary. In Lewis’s work it is integral. He is not scared of illusion and colour enhances the visual ambiguity of his work. He has great facility as if sculpture came easily to him. This is hard won effect but not many have such flair. Gusto and brio are artistic impressions.
Only a good artist can pull them off.