Buried Treasure

"Catacombs 34" (2010)
Thomas Lyon Mills
The Catacombs
Luise Ross Gallery

"...where the temperature and humidity are unchanging, I share space with eight-inch phosphorescent mantises, translucent spiders and tiny moths that, attracted to my lights, cling to my clothes and hair."

These are the words of artist Thomas Lyons Mills, referring to the Roman catacombs -- a place where he has spent countless hours accumulating visual and emotional data in both his sketchbook and his mind. The resulting mixed media meanderings through those most sacred of spaces yield masterful renderings of timeless textures that cover curious corridors riddled with subtle life forms and ages-old death. Like an in-between place, Purgatory, the waking dream or your everyday day dream, Mills's most effectively awakens with his art, your subconscious, your fears, your phobias, and your fantasies and breathes a thick atmosphere of sights, sounds, smells, and sighs that travel right through to your core.

In the techniques he employs -- he uses a great variety of media from printmaking to painting, drawing, and collage -- Mills shows himself to be a virtuoso, a visionary, a venturer whose intensity captures every detail of erosion and decay with an incredibly wide range of methods from precisely rendered vistas and details in paint to worn and abraded bits of paper that he sometimes finds blowing by on the streets above.

And like his subject matter, Mills's art evolves over time, accumulating a multitude of impressions and intricacies that weave a most wonderful dreamlike narrative through the deepest reaches of the underground in one of the most historic places on earth, Rome.