Arts & Culture » Visual Art

Behind the Wooden Mask

At Betti Ono.


The prolific Paul Lewin is back at Betti Ono with his second solo show in the gallery, entitled Behind the Wooden Mask. Last year, the Jamaica-born, Oakland-based artist presented Roots of the Cotton Tree, for which he applied an afro-futurist sensibility to West African and Caribbean folklore to reimagine the roots of his ancestry. The result was baroque paintings in jewel-toned palettes featuring Black figures adorned with lavish costumes, jewels, amulets, and other tokens of mysticism. His current show, which continues until January 14, maintains his elaborate style while honing in on the mask as a spiritual portal. Evoking the use of ceremonial masks in many African cultures as a medium for dialogue between spirits, humans, and ancestors, Lewin beautifully illustrates a world in which boundaries between the physical and spiritual have been dissolved.