June 10, 2007

Mark Lewis first recipient of the Gershon Iskowitz Prize at the AGO


Photographer and filmmaker Mark Lewis was born in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1957. He now lives and works in London, England. He attended Harrow College of Art (London) and the Polytechnic of Central London. Starting out as a photographer, Mark Lewis began to experiment with film in the mid-1990’s. He is the co-founder of Afterall – a research and publishing organization – and founding editor of the Afterall Journal. Every issue of the journal brings together five international artists and discusses their works. Mark Lewis is also the principal lecturer of research at Central St. Martins School of Art and Design, in London.

On May 31, 2007, Mark Lewis has been jointly recognized by the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and the Gershon Iskowitz Foundation for his contribution to the visual arts in Canada. Mark Lewis is the first recipient of the Gershon Iskowitz Prize.

The AGO’s permanent collection includes one of Mark Lewis’ most famous works – Algonquin Park, Early March (2002), in which he uses a slow reverse zoom. The four-minute film, shot in Ontario, begins with whiteness that the viewer perceives to be sky, but as the image unfolds it is revealed to be the frozen surface of a lake.

“Lewis returns to the locale made familiar and famous by the Group of Seven painters, artists such as Tom Thomson, and realizes a work of startling revelation,” says David Moos, AGO curator of contemporary art and a member of the jury that selected Mark Lewis. “As in many of Lewis’ films, the viewer is transported in both narrative and perceptual terms.”

Mark Lewis has always been fascinated with the social phenomenon and power of film. His work explores the pictorial possibilities of this art form, often using 35mm film, professional actors and basic cinematic techniques characteristic of avant-garde and mainstream cinema. His works seek to make connections between art history and cinema.

Some of Lewis’ other popular works include: Rear Projection (Molly Parker) (2006) and Rear Projection (Golden Rod) (2006). Molly Parker is a filmed portrait of the actress that is superimposed on a backdrop of an abandoned gas station. It has been described as a Renaissance cinematic portrait. Golden Rod was filmed in the same location, but from a different angle. It explores the disorienting effect of the camera’s slow movement through the landscape. Both works use a cinematic technique from the 1930’s that allowed stars to be ‘transported’ to dangerous or exotic landscapes. This technique has been supplemented by what is now called a green screen and digital technology.

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