Gilbert Lewis, Dancer

Gouache on paper
Credit Line
Gift of Eric Rymshaw and James Fulton, 2017
44 x 30 in.

Lewis’s dancer is like a Renaissance prince with his curled bangs and luscious purple shirt, a loose-fitting “velour” turtleneck of the sort that was fashionable in the late 1980s. Leaning to the left as he lifts his right foot, he appears to be demonstrating a dance move. His fingers are slim and elegant, and he wears ballet slippers on his dainty feet.

The composition is organized around the dancer’s purple shirt. Anthony Rullo, one of the artist’s longtime models, describes how a single color could become a topic of conversation and the focus of a painting:
There’d be some color, and he [Lewis] would just go on and on about how beautiful this color was. I would think, it’s just red, what’s the big deal? He loved clothes, too. He loved it when I was excited about something I bought. He would say, oh, let me paint you in that. He loved to paint fabric, that was another thing that never occurred to me. We would look at pictures and he would say, “See the folds in the fabric and how beautiful this is and the way the light hits it.”


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