In September 2016, Unit London presented the latest collection of new work by South African painter Ryan Hewett – ‘Order’. Following two sell-out solo shows at the Soho gallery, Hewett’s vivid and visceral new direction further set his reputation as one of South Africa’s most exciting and dynamic young artists.
Untitled (2015) saw Hewett create semi-abstract representations of famous and infamous figures, ranging from Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela to Osama Bin Laden and Adolf Hitler. Thick layers of paint would be applied before being scraped and smeared to reveal vestigial images of the iconic figures beneath. Key works in Hewett’s 2016 satellite exhibition saw flat, monotone colour punctuated by bold strokes of paint, suggesting a bold new direction. With an instinctive interest in mark-making, Hewett’s continued fixation with the ‘curved flick’ has provided the impetus for this body of work.
Throughout 2016 Hewett continued to experiment – revising his entire approach and
his working environment in the process. The 23 new works signaled a radical shift from
the artist’s intentionally chaotic process of construction and destruction towards a more
considered and confident approach. Order included self-portraits, portraits of Lucian Freud, Egon
Schiele, Marcel Duchamp, Samuel Beckett, Audrey Hepburn and, for the first time
ever, landscapes. While representing a significant step change for the artist, Hewett’s
2016 works retained the unsettling beauty for which he has become renowned.
In the studio with Ryan Hewett, 2016
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