‘Where does animalkind end and humankind begin? What of the wild and the primitive within? In exploring these tantalising enigmas, Lewis searches wilderness, myth and ancient belief systems for inspiration, meaning and answers.’
From Animal to Human at the Rupert Museum was an exhibition that traced Lewis’s personal and artistic development. The exhibition contextualised all of the sculptor’s work and elucidated the new direction Lewis took after having focused on the animal form for the past 15 years. The carefully selected series of non-chronological works and installations of Shapeshifting traced and illustrated the threads underlying Lewis’s progression from wilderness, to animal, to fragmented animal forms, to the human/animal interface embodied in his latest figure work. Through this exhibition it became clear that his recent exploration of the human form was not the radical shift in focus it may have appeared to be. Instead, this shift in subject matter became seen as a natural progression of the sculptor’s artistic journey and personal philosophy.
An important moment in Lewis’s progression towards the human figures he is currently working on was Leopard and Serpent, which breaks from realism and enters a more abstract, mythical realm. The abstraction is particularly evident in the compositional elements of this piece, and there is also a discernible trace of the influence of sculptors Antoine Louis Barye (1796 – 1875) and Rembrandt Bugatti (1884 – 1916)
As with many Dylan Lewis exhibitions, Shapeshifting included a series of outreach programmes to which local school children were invited.