Ryan Hewett
7 - 17 December 2021

H+ at UTA Artist Space

Ryan Hewett
Unit London is excited to announce a new solo exhibition from South African artist, Ryan Hewett, taking place in Los Angeles with UTA Artist Space. Appearing as a natural progression from previous exhibitions, Hewett’s latest solo show is entitled H+.

Standing for human advancement, H+ explores the ideas and philosophies of trans-humanism. As a social and ideological movement, trans-humanism is devoted to advocating the research and development of human advancement technologies. H+ seeks to represent visually how these technologies might augment human sensory reception, emotional ability and cognitive capacity, leading to radical improvements in human health and extended lifespans. In line with these concepts, Hewett’s exhibition presents a series of hybridised portraits, figurative works and landscapes that hover on the boundary between the human and what the artist defines as the humanoid. In this sense, H+ uncovers the juxtaposition between the natural environment we live in and a possible futuristic society. 

On a formal level, H+ demonstrates Hewett’s progressing artistic practice, which is equally hybrid in nature, combining textured and fluid brushwork with taut geometric shapes and lines. Certain pieces, for example his “bot-babies”, are born completely from his imagination. However, in some instances, Hewett turns to archives of images and photographic aids for inspiration, using many different references from multiple sources to create his artworks. As a result, each piece becomes an amalgam or a composite that unfolds intuitively onto the canvas without preconceived ideas or planning. It seems that the artist’s own artistic process mirrors the concepts that have inspired H+. Hewett’s fluid and unpredictable imagination fuses with the use of tangible photographic sources. Free and expressive brushstrokes contrast with rigid forms. In this sense, H+ blends the natural, organic and the unplanned with something altogether more detailed, orderly and meticulous. 

In juxtaposing these natural forms with geometric contours and straight lines, Hewett symbolises a trans-humanist outlook, which seeks to advance human life through technological means. At times, his futuristic and imagined characters are inserted into the natural world, with organic forms, such as clouded skies or fluid congregations of expressive brushwork, appearing as the backdrops of these artworks. At others, these figures sit in front of tightly wrought geometric backgrounds. As such, Hewett seeks to underline the harmony that could exist between the technological and the organic. Equally, H+ emphasises that we ultimately cannot know what the future holds and how this concept of trans-humanism might unfold in our day-to-day lives. In this sense, Hewett’s exhibition begins to explore how the natural world could balance against man-made technologies and how human beings might be able to live with humanoids. 

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