Artsy: Tony Lewis on Creating New Work during Quarantine

May 5, 2020

Claire Voon

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Artists on Creating New Work during Quarantine
By: Claire Voon

Artists are sheltering at home, and despite the disruptions to their lives and limited access to materials and space, many still feel an urge to create. Some are making works that respond directly to the coronavirus pandemic; others, now with unexpected spare time, are realizing suspended projects that have nothing to do with the developing global crisis. We spoke with seven artists about how their practices are helping them find solace and meaning in this period of uncertainty and paralyzing anxiety.

Tony Lewis

This month, Tony Lewis was scheduled to debut new works at Blum & Poe's New York gallery, but the exhibition has been postponed until further notice. Glimpses of some of those drawings have made their way onto his Instagram account, where Lewis has also been sharing snapshots of his lockdown life in Chicago. Splitting time between his home and studio building, he has been working on drawings, including some wherein he alters the text and images in Calvin and Hobbes comic cells.

“I’m sort of immediately back to the literal drawing board, while finished exhibition objects and concepts float aimlessly,” Lewis said. “It’s a funky place. I’ve got drawing ideas happening at the moment that are nine years old, others that are five, and quick riffs off of current ideas that help me think about drawing in different ways.”

Art has been a way for Lewis to fight cabin fever, as has mixing cocktails, spending time with his girlfriend, and watching Key & Peele. While finding focus has been hard, he’s been able to work an hour or so at a time as he falls into new routines. “I think I’m loosening up and settling into the current reality,” Lewis said. “Artists tend to fight with self-discipline on a daily basis, and now more and more people are having to deal with it. Finding a sense of daily rhythm that lowers anxiety and stress feels like a good thing—no matter how weird one’s system may seem.”

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