Gilbert Lewis, Untitled (February 2, 1982)
This work is unusual in that Lewis painted it in the sitter’s home. It may have been a sketch for a commissioned portrait. Seated on a bright green sofa and wearing oversized rose-colored glasses, the young man strokes one of his Siamese cats. The glass-topped table reflects the green of the sofa and the yellow stripe of the gold frame. A lit cigarette balances on an ashtray while the smoke curls upward.
Among Lewis’s strongest inspirations was pioneering, openly gay artist David Hockney, who often portrayed figures in their homes. Lewis’s former lover and longtime friend Eric Rymshaw explained that when he and Lewis were in their twenties, they spotted Hockney in the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
I remember we stalked David Hockney one day at the Metropolitan Museum. He loved Hockney, but he wouldn’t go up and say hello to him, so we stalked him through the entire museum . . . Gilbert was very shy then. He loved the fact that he could disappear in his studio and paint—he was an intense painter. He painted all the time, always looking for ways to paint and people to paint.