Lewis was reputedly born aboard his father’s yacht off the coast of Nova Scotia, to an English mother and American father. He studied at the Slade School of Art and, at various stages in his early career was associated with the Camden Town Group, the Omega Workshop and the Rebel Art Centre. It was in his role as co-founder (with Ezra Pound) of the Vorticist movement however for which he is best known, praising mechanical form over natural, wishing to dissolve the narrative, affectionate and sentimental ties that bind people, and delivering his words in typically abrasive style (in the Vorticist house magazine, BLAST). He enlisted as a gunner and bombardier in the First World War, and after the third Battle of Ypres in 1917, was commissioned by both the Canadian and British governments as an official war artist. After the war, he resumed painting, but some of his more belligerent faith in progress, a.k.a. abstraction, had been knocked out of him during the war, as he witnessed the devastation on the western front. His incisive draughtsmanship however is fully in evidence in this drawing. He increasingly took to writing rather than to painting, some of his output seemingly a defence of the ideologies which were shortly to establish themselves in Nazi German.

Thresholds, British Council 2010