Amani Lewis’s lively paintings are produced from layers of acrylic paint, digital collage, textile, and oftentimes glitter, merging historical and contemporary narratives of African Americans within the picture plane. Lewis has been fascinated with Black figures that the artist meets in their daily life throughout their practice, particularly in Baltimore where he lives and works.
ZAY (South Miami) also depicts a figure that they encountered in real life, but in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood when the artist was producing work at the Fountainhead Residency, Florida. His distinct features, such as his magnanimous smile, tattooed hands, and sizable beard, fill the canvas with his youthful exuberance, while the digitally reconfigured color palette with a strong magenta undertone imbues the painting with a cartoonish, graphic atmosphere. Together, these gestures seem to communicate the various facets of the life of the figure depicted, functioning as a “complex site layered with vibrancy, life, heat, energy, growth, healing, safety, magic, and music” as conceived by the artist.