Ryan Hewett
Ryan Hewett

Ryan Hewett

One of South Africa’s ‘most distinguished artists'

Renowned for his brooding and evocative paintings, for South African born Hewett, the portrait is not about capturing an external likeness of a subject, but rather creating a portal to the inner journey of self-exploration.

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According to esteemed writer and art critic Edward Lucie-Smith, Hewett’s pictures “appear on the painted surface in the form of extraordinary apparitions, present yet not present. The vigorous marks of the brush reveal them, yet at the same time conceal them”, going on to label him as, “one of South Africa’s most distinguished painters today – we become part of the work, engaged by the act of looking.”

Hewett’s techniques have evolved from tightly wrought pencil drawings into the looser, layered richly hued surfaces of his present work. In his more recent landscape work we see the artist taking a bold leap of faith, exploring gradients of colour and moving away from the realm of portraiture for which he is widely known. The heavy, impasto brushwork appears in stark contrast to the smooth, flat textures divided up across the canvas. Hewett’s restless desire to keep developing has led him to bring a sense of order to his previously chaotic approach. A bold new mark making can be seen in his use of clean lines and solid blocks of colour, each carefully calculated to hold a perfect weight. 

For his third solo show, The Garden, the artist incorporated a myriad of geometric structures, depicting abstract figurative forms and isolated environments, drawing from human experience and the natural world. The eponymous hero piece, The Garden, lent its name to the title of the exhibition and can be viewed as a starting point for the artist’s evolving exploration of multi-dimensional landscapes and complex layering. The new body of work retained the heavily vigorous textural quality of Hewett’s distinctive earlier practice, alongside a juxtaposition of flattened angular shapes that draws the viewers’ focus back to the materiality and technique of traditional painting. The Garden was Unit London's inaugural exhibition our flagship Mayfair location, opening the space in summer 2018 with his brand new series of monumental oil paintings.

Hewett has had three sell-out shows with Unit London and his work can be found in private collections internationally, including collections in South Africa, Dubai, Los Angeles, Zurich, Miami, London, New York and Riyadh. 

Ryan Hewett | Order | 2016

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