November 9, 2011
Henry Lewis and Lango Fly in San Fran
Tattooists and artists Henry Lewis and Lango were challenged to fill the wall at the corner of 6th and Market in San Francisco – and they did so with aplomb.
A tattooer and prolific painter, Henry Lewis is consumed by the practice of his twin crafts. Moving seamlessly between skin and canvas, Henry works in a distinctive style that combines the iconography and lush imagery that reflect his deep appreciation for both baroque painting and traditional tattooing. These disparate influences are cobbled together into an intricate lexicon that is as referential of popular culture as it is reverent. The result of this fusion is a broken down splendor and gaudiness with which Henry highlights the movement of art from the sacred through the profane.
Henry’s startling portraits and scenes reflect his preoccupation with personal struggle, loss, and reincorporation. The stark and beautiful figures that populate his work—warriors, demons, birds, and beasts—are, ultimately, stand-ins for our own better selves; we see our own toiling, both petty and essential, couched in their fleeting moments of fight, rest, resignation, and triumph. Growing up in Los Angeles with siblings enough to field his own rugby team, Henry’s interests tended toward the creative. Even today his vocabulary is defined by a pastiche of references and influences drawn together across visual art, street culture, and music—perhaps most prominent among them his father, Juno Lewis, a notable jazz musician.
Henry can be found at Skull and Sword Tattoo in San Francisco.
Lango is a self-taught artist and tattooer hailing from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he initially developed his talent and skills due in large part to his artistic mother. He is one that paints for the love of painting, be that oil on canvas, ink on skin, or spray paint on walls, and therefore enjoys that everyone from “crackheads to yuppies”—people that don’t have access to art galleries or museums—can still see his work.
Lango’s imagination takes on surreal shape due to the variety of life he encounters, his interactions through literature, art, skateboarding, movies, music, ancient secrets, dreams, and yes, emotions. He paints big, and he’s determined to paint even bigger in the future. Through a saturated palette of rich hues, Lango’s craft is a whirlpool of tattoo imagery, worldly mytholog, surreal bio-organic metamorphosing shapes, and abstract expressions.
Lango currently lives and works in San Francisco, CA, at Skull and Sword Tattoo.
Where It’s At
On Club 6 venue and gallery resides in downtown San Francisco, on Sixth and Market Streets, existing in the underground strata on the cusp of cool, with no chance of jeopardizing its hip appeal. Crowds favoring the skate scene and punk rock as well as hip-hop and art events draw foot traffic from all over the Bay Area. For years Henry Lewis’ art studio was right next door, where he grew intimately familiar with the Tenderloin’s quirky pros and cons. Or rather, ducked in and out of the dark side, imbued but unscathed.
Lango has also painted publicly and extensively throughout the area, so it’s only fitting that the two artists have initiated a totem of peace mission into the infamously marginalized neighborhood. Artisan wildlife invite elements of nature’s beauty into the environs, calling attention that harmony among community is the greatest antidote to the uproar of recent violence. With the latest Club 6 Cons eagle, Henry and Lango continue the call for unity, calm, and ultimate triumph.