Paintings from the Healing Machine
Interview with Godfrey Lewi
Godfrey Levi’s artwork depicts images that are abstract and erratic. These images are rich in interpretation and that was something that I learnt while speaking to the artist and his family.
Firstly the machine that Godfrey uses is very erratic in a sense. He places a canvas on a motor and its spins at 200-600 rotations a minute. To this he adds the paint to the canvas and lets the machine decide what image it want to show:.
“They talk to you. You can’t see what it is doing while it is spinning. It is spinning at anywhere between 200-600 revs a minute. You put on bits of paint around the canvas- but once it’s spinning that paint goes wherever it goes. It’s has a mind of its own…. It’s not like paining a portrait of someone or a still life- where the apple tells you it’s an apple. You can interpret it differently but ultimately it tells you that it wants to be an apple. With the spinning process you haven’t got a clue where it is going to take you. Which I like.”
“What I have learnt is that I am not actually doing the paintings. The paintings are telling me what they want to be. I start out one way, then I am taken in a completely different direction. It tells me where and what it wants to be. It is a very emotional time- it is like…I don’t particularly believe in this… but when you go into séances they tell you to feel the vibes. These works feel the way that you are feeling at the time and it just comes out that way. The wheel tells you how you feel.”
This artwork is a reflection of the artist and his emotions. It has been a very cathartic process for him. In the artists words this images are a “mixture of imagination and emotions.”
“Cathartic is a good word. Until now I have been calling it more therapy. I don’t know why but it just is. If you asked me to come and paint you now I couldn’t because I have to be in the right mood. The feeling has to be there.” The artwork “is all different emotions that I have felt. I can start out very melancholy and then uplifted by they end. Art invokes memories. It seems to express me. What sort of expression I’m not sure. The combinations and the results are quite limitless. It is an infinite amount of variations that you can get. My way of thinking is slightly scrambled. I don’t know why but I like trying to look at things differently”
I asked Godfrey about his colour scheme and queried why he chose to uses just black and white. He explained that black and white where extremes of each other. They represent the light and dark of life.
“I think black and white are two very distinctive colours. They express two extremes of feelings. It’s light and dark and it covers the entire gambit of emotions. You need to black and white to get the grey. What I want the artwork to do is have a different meaning to anyone who looks at it. I want you to impart your own emotions onto the works.”
Abstract artist such a Picasso and Salvador Dali inspire him not necessarily their finished product but the interpretation and perception of an image. What interested Godfrey was how these artists viewed the ordinary and manipulated it to represent their own unique view.
“It is more the abstract artist type Salvador Dali, Picasso… even though that is not my style of painting. I’ll look at these works and say “how can I do this differently” It’s not so much their finished product. It is just the way they looked and viewed that object. The finished product doesn’t really interest me… it’s the steps before it and what made him look at it in that way.”
Always a creative type form a young age, Godfrey was always drawn to artistic and creative jobs. From restoring to vintage cars for weddings and a party company specialising in balloon decorations I asked why it was only now later in his life he was finally creating art. Late discovery of an artist outlet is bit of a foreign concept for me. I am of a generation that refuses to have our dream questioned and every second 20 year old is an artist these days. I asked him why now at this point in his life he was creating art and why it was such a late discovery for him.
“I’ll answer this in two fold. I was creative from a young age but I had one of the worst art teachers that knocked the urge right out of me. Art was seen as a subject for unintelligent students. If you were smart you had to do maths, physics and chemistry. Any artistic bend was quelled from a young age. Now going back to your diplomatic question “coming into it later in life” the timing is right for me. I have more time and I don’t have to work that hard to put bread on the table…and I am guessing the teacher that knocked out my creativity is dead now. This was the education system back then. In the 50s and 60s they didn’t help you develop any artistic bent. What art does teach you is to use your imagination where other subjects don’t. Once you learn to use your imagination it can take you in so many directions.”
This exhibition is created for the viewers experience and whether you hate or love the work the intention of the artist is to create images that are evocative to the viewer. The abstract imagery is reminiscent of the black and white emotions that we all experience in our daily lives.