Robert Hewer Solo Show
The Portrait and human figure are subjects that have fascinated artists for centuries. The museums around the world are full of paintings that testify to the potency of this subject and the way it touches on ideas about who we are or want to be, self-image and status, and the human condition. The figure and portrait paintings by Robert Hewer give his own particular contemporary twist to this engaging and timeless motif.
Faces emerge out of a complex surface of facets, brushstrokes and coloured accents; he never lets us forget that we are looking at a painted surface, deliberately placing accentuated brushstrokes and small flicks and ripples of paint. These paintings are richly assembled and reveal a fluency, confidence and skill in manipulating paint that any expressive abstract artist would envy, but he also manages to combine this activity with a high degree of skill in rendering the portrait, or indeed the other subjects such as still life that he occasionally extends his range to.
Sometimes we recognise the person in the portrait, perhaps a celebrity from contemporary life, and this sense of recognition plays on the viewers consciousness while all the time there is the physicality of the painted surface to explore and become involved in. Here we find that the painterly quality is matched by an acute awareness of composition and underlying geometry.
The facial expressions and bodily poses occupy a range of personalities, at times stark, bold, even confrontational, at other times quiet or withdrawn, or perhaps showing a blank vacant expression hinting at anonymity in the modern age of mass surveillance. We are permitted the space to speculate on the essence of a person and what it means to be looked at.
Visually stunning and technically brilliant these striking paintings have the power to both thrill and excite, as well as to encourage more profound reflection and questioning.
Robert Hewer writes about the ideas behind these new paintings:
‘ In this show I really wanted to focus on pushing my mark making and use of colour in the paintings, which in turn has created two dimensions to the show, the colour pieces and the monochrome.
With the monochrome work I was able to exercise a more lively and exuberant use of mark making without the distractions of colour, which was a really liberating and fruitful process.
This use of mark then also fed in to how I approached the colour paintings, pushing me to be braver with the vibrancy and contrasting relationships of the colour.
Because of how the two sides of the show have informed each other throughout the marking process, I think there is a real cohesive element weaving through the paintings; creating a body of work that plays off one another in an interesting and dynamic way.’