Varnish Fine Art Presents: Mike Davis and Henry Lewis - Contemporary Surrealists
March 2 - April 13, 2013

Opening Reception: March 2, 2012 6:00PM - 9:00PM

February 15, 2013 (MMD Newswire) -- Varnish Fine Art is proud to present the two-artist exhibit "Mike Davis & Henry Lewis: Contemporary Surrealists", opening with an artists' reception on March 2, 2013. Davis and Lewis create oil paintings filled with personal, complex narratives and symbolic languages developed over time in their professional lives as highly acclaimed tattooers. Although they each possess signature styles, Mike Davis and Henry Lewis both debut new series of works for this show that "move toward the light" side of the dark worlds they expose on the panel.

In this exhibit San Francisco artists Mike Davis and Henry Lewis showcase their painterly skills with new bodies of work. Davis' current museum show "Hey! Modern Art & Pop Culture Part II" features four of his paintings alongside other renowned contemporary American artists. As a classic outsider, he is a self-taught fine artist with a fascinating personal iconography. Henry Lewis exposes the warrior essence of his subjects, conveying their victories, tragedies and triumphs. Using his signature symbolism of armor and weaponry, he passionately depicts the inherent fragility of humanity and the individual's ability to overcome adversity. Although Henry Lewis has shown extensively, this is his first exhibit at Varnish.


"Being a tattooer has really been my art school... it has forced me to draw constantly and think about the fundamentals." - Mike Davis

Inspired by the Northern Renaissance masters and 1960's/70's album art, Mike Davis paints symbolic narratives that tell a tale from the artist's own life. They may depict a vulnerable passage, a breakup or a middle-of-the-night fear. The very specific and purposefully placed symbols in each work are a part of Davis' personal lexicon, developed over time to speak to his own experiences. There are many ways to interpret the works, often shadowed by our own histories. The truth of the piece may never be revealed, but the exquisite details and humor in the face of grim circumstances offer the viewer a glimpse into Davis' very soul.

"Since I could hold a trumpet... I knew that art was gonna be the life and death of me." - Henry Lewis

Born into a musical and artistic home, Henry Lewis embraced fine art as a way to deal with the tragedies and triumphs of life. His works are filled with armored subjects wielding ancient weapons; protecting their fragile forms from the outside world and their own inner demons. Though the iconography is ancient, the subjects are modern and the weapons are used not only to protect, but to regain power lost through the travails of life. Through his expressive and evocative brushwork, Henry uses familiar symbols and mythological references to expose his own truths as well as the viewer's.

About Mike Davis

Mike Davis renders complex narrative medieval scenes embedded with his personal symbolic system signifying mortality, folly, and hubris, within whimsical and mysterious compositions. Ancient art, Dutch genre painting and artwork of the Northern Renaissance heavily influence his work which is additionally informed by his twenty year career as an internationally renowned tattoo artist.

Davis currently lives and works in San Francisco, California where, in addition to painting, he owns and operates his tattoo shop Everlasting Tattoo. His artwork has been featured in Hey! Magazine; Juxtapoz Magazine; Art Ltd.; Pop Surrealism: The Rise of Underground Art; Tatt Book: Visionaries of Tattoo. Davis has tattooed an extensive list of international and celebrity clientele, and has been featured in numerous gallery and museum exhibitions throughout San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Montreal, and Rome. His work is featured in a number of prestigious private art collections throughout the United States, Canada, Italy, United Kingdom, Norway, and Sweden.

About Henry Lewis

The works of Henry Lewis are filled with observations on the human condition. Baroque filigree, Romanesque armor and symbolic creatures tell tales of struggle and strength made universal, presenting us with characters and scenes that bring to mind mythological tales of kings, queens and warriors, battle scarred and wounded, but made the better and stronger for all their vulnerabilities.

Born in Pasadena, California in 1977, Lewis moved to San Francisco in 2000 to pursue a career in tattooing, illustration, and painting. He draws on a broad range of influences, which includes fellow tattooers and contemporaries, such as Don Hardy, Mike Davis and Jason Schroeder to the art historical works of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Peter Paul Reubens, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini .

Lewis has worked as a tattooer for the past 14 years and is a featured artist at the world-renowned tattoo studio, Skull & Sword. He has exhibited at galleries nationwide and continues to live and work in San Francisco.

About Varnish Fine Art

Jen Rogers and Kerri Stephens believe that Art makes the world a better place. Since founding Varnish Fine Art in 2003, the gallery has become known for showing provocative and skillfully executed contemporary artwork. True to its original mission, Varnish Fine Art continues to be a lively and vital part of the Yerba Buena Arts District in downtown San Francisco.


Media Opportunities
Interview with Mike Davis.
Interview with Henry Lewis.
Interview with co-owners Jen Rogers and Kerri Stephens.
High-resolution images available upon request.

Calendar editors:
Mike Davis & Henry Lewis: Contemporary Surrealists

Opening Reception: March 2, 2013 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Exhibition Dates: March 2 - April 13, 2013
Gallery Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 11am - 6pm

Varnish Fine Art
16 Jessie St., #C120
San Francisco, CA 94105
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