Wine as an Ingredient in Art

Just not quite in the way you might have thought. Sign me up! Sounds fun…

Ode to Dionysus

Artists over the centuries have chosen all sorts of seemingly unusual things with which to create their art, from ground-up roots, soils and foods to blood and even urine, as Andy Warhol so infamously proved.

For Matthew Lew, the chosen medium is wine. And his reason for taking the unexpected step is identical to that given by many when asked why they love drinking wine: its terroir.

Terroir is the French word for soil, but it means so much more than that. Terroir is a uniqueness rooted in a sense of a place. That’s important to Lew, who began a few years ago to use wines made around the world to link his work with specific geographical areas.

“It gives a different essence to the piece,” the Chicago artist explained.

A just completed painting, a Tuscan landscape, used two Italian wines, a 2005 Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Riserva, and a sparkling non-vintage Canella Prosecco di Conegliano.

His works are colorful, contemporary, expressive and often bold. Themes range from Buddhas and cityscapes to elegant abstracts. Sometimes, he’ll mix in a client’s favorite wine to give a commissioned piece a special significance.

[Click to read more: From wine glass to canvas, painter explores the visual meaning of terroir — Bill Daley at the]

Mr. Lew mixes wine directly into his acrylics, with a bit of randomness as a result. Richer colors sometimes but there isn’t a strict formula.

I just wish I had space to have a permanent painting studio in my apartment: I’d throw a splash of this Ercavio Tempranillo Roble 2006 I’m sipping directly onto my palette just for fun. Frequently, the best art is a result of happy experiments and chance.

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