Paul Lewin Reinterprets African Folklore

While traveling is ill-advised, nothing can stop us from scouring the internet. Art—especially art that is shared on Instagram—is a great way to experience different cultures without doing the actual traveling. That’s how we came across Paul Lewin’s women portraits.

Inspired by his African heritage, Lewin paints with the intention of creating alternate worlds, with various elements of African and Afro Caribbean culture. Born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1973, Lewin moved to the U.S. with his family when he was only 4 years old, but as he grew older and delved into his artistic career, he found himself drawn to his cultural upbringing.

“I began researching the folklore of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands which lead me back to ancient Africa and then all the way to my home country of Jamaica,” he recalled in an interview with Medium. “Most stories from Caribbean folklore have been handed down from generation to generation dating all the way back to ancient Africa.”

“My mother told me about growing up in the old country in Jamaica,” he goes on to say. “When it got dark the Grandparents would gather the children around outside to tell them Anansi stories — which are the most well know Jamaican and African folktales. I began feeling like I had found what I was looking for. It had just the right amount of mysticism, rituals, and the supernatural that I felt would work well with my style.”

While his paintings are inspired by Afro Caribbean and African folklore, nature and sci-fi also play a role in his work. The final pieces present a reinterpretation of African traditions and folklore, presented in vibrant colors and details. Prepare to be inspired: