Portrait of Wyndham Lewis

Chris Evans, 2005, airbrush painting, 43 x 33 cm
“Our Vortex is not afraid of its past: It has forgotten its existence.” (Wyndham Lewis, 1914)
As with Joyce, Beuys and Mark E. Smith, the historians will be arguing about (Percy) Wyndham Lewis until the kingdom comes. 20th-century culture has been kept alive by the irritants which work their way under its skin. In this much, McLuhan’s call for “the need for a counter-environment as a means for perceiving the dominant one” required a new century to prove its accuracy. Wyndham Lewis, who could so easily be the subject of a myriad quarterly reviews, has remained a shadowy and mistrusted figure, silhouetted on the banks of the cultural mainstream. As our times appear to demand art terrorist outsiders, Lewis has called the era’s bluff by refusing easy routes to fashionable and commercially lucrative acceptance. While Marinetti caught, peeled and ate the orange thrown at him in public disgrace, Wyndham Lewis — unknown to many — continues to ply his trade as a novelist, satirist, poet, critic of literature, philosophy and art, magazine editor, painter, and fly-in-the-ointment.

–“Wyndham Lewis,” Stuart Bailey, Dot Dot Dot #11, 2005

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