Ryan Hewett’s latest solo exhibition with Unit London presents a body of work that merges notions of futurism, transhumanism and fantasy.
Nexus, drawing its name from a series of connections between multiple points, is inspired by the concept of “Generation Alpha”; the first cohort born entirely into the twenty-first century and, therefore, the digital age. Inspired by his own children, Hewett presents a series of oil paintings that introduces a cast of enigmatic characters, embodying the spirit of a new generation poised to shape the future. These futuristic portraits capture an essence of humanity while also exploring the ethereal and the otherworldly, imagining a space in which fantasy and technological innovation intertwine. Nexus invites viewers into a realm where cyborgs, A.I. and mythical creatures coexist, blurring the lines between what is real and what is imagined.
A natural progression from previous bodies of work, Nexus demonstrates Hewett’s gradual movement towards a fantasy world. The artist no longer uses real life models or reference points. Instead, he draws inspiration from his own imagination. Inspired by notions of transhumanism, a movement that advocates the use of technologies to augment human capability, Hewett creates fantastical yet ultramodern portraits that, nonetheless, retain their humanity. Through a visual language that hovers on the boundary between figuration and abstraction, Hewett searches for a balance between tangibility and immateriality.
Hewett’s dualistic visual language is reflected in his own artistic process, which uses both primed and unprimed areas of canvas to blend rougher and smoother applications of paint. In each portrait, loose brushwork and impasto mingle with clean lines and geometric shapes. Oil paint and canvas remain the artist’s mediums of choice, but he has started to implement less traditional materials, introducing sand to his artworks to create varying surface textures. Hewett has also begun to experiment with monochrome colour palettes, slowly progressing away from the bright hues of earlier bodies of work.
Nexus is the natural next step for the artist, expanding on exhibitions such as H+, which considered the harmony that could exist between the technological and the organic. Nexus takes these ideas further, exploring our increasingly interconnected and technologically advanced society by focusing on the young people navigating and embracing these changes. Hewett’s portraits highlight these ‘digital natives’, a generation that is unlike any other in humankind’s history.
92 x 90 cm
One Small Seed
170 x 150 cm framed
92 x 90 cm
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Ryan Hewett (b. 1979) is a South African artist, currently based in Mauritius. He is renowned for his evocative portraits that explore the inner journey of soul-searching, relying principally on the intuitive processes of memory and imagination.
Using a variety of oil painting techniques, from brushes to knives, Hewett’s extensive knowledge draws on renowned movements within art history. His structured forms and psychedelic colours allude to Cubist portraits and Surrealist landscapes, while his body-length portraits recall Renaissance medical diagrams of the human anatomy.
Hewett has exhibited extensively in art fairs, group and solo exhibitions in major cities around the world. His recent solo exhibitions include Asia Art Centre, Taipei, Taiwan (2023); H+, UTA Artist Space, Los Angeles, USA (2021) and Ryan Hewett: Nothing New Under The Sun, The Goss Michael Foundation, Dallas, Texas, USA (2019). In 2022 his works were featured in multiple group exhibitions that include Unit London Take-over, Nassima Landau Foundation, Tel Aviv, Israel; The Armory Show, Art Fair, Maruani Mercier, New York, USA and The Playground of Geometry, CICA Vancouver, CA. Hewett’s work can be found in various international private and public collections, including the Nassima Landau Foundation, Tel Aviv Israel; Amoli Foundation, Hong Kong; X Museum, Beijing, China; Goss Michael Foundation, Dallas, USA and Fine Art Centre, Taipei, Taiwan, among others.
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