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Latest collection of new work by South African painter Ryan Hewett on view at Unit London
Ryan Hewett, Titanium White Collar, 2016.

LONDON.- Unit London presents the latest collection of new work by South African painter Ryan Hewett. Following two sell-out solo shows at the innovative Soho gallery, Hewett’s vivid and visceral new direction looks set to further 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. One of the key works in Hewett’s 2016 Satellite exhibition (Samuel, below left), 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 new body of work.

Throughout 2016 Hewett has continued to experiment - revising his entire approach and his working environment in the process. The 23 new works signal a radical shift from the artist’s deliberately chaotic process of construction and destruction towards a more considered and confident approach. While paint is still applied impasto - brushes and masks are employed alongside the palette knife to create hard lines and graded blocks of colour. Hewett’s new collection includes self-portraits, portraits of Lucian Freud, Egon Schiele, Marcel Duchamp, Samuel Beckett and Audrey Hepburn and, for the first time ever, landscapes. While representing a significant step change for the artist, Hewett’s new works retain the unsettling beauty for which he has become renowned.

Born in South Africa in 1979, Ryan Hewett began his career drawing with pencil, before graduating to oils and developing a highly expressive style notable for sculptural and textured surfaces and unique flesh tones thick with florid reds and lead white. He works impulsively, without a preliminary sketch or charcoal, beginning by applying paint directly to the surface and working quickly for fear of the oil drying. Hewett’s interest in both figuration and abstraction recalls the painters of The London School, including Frank Auerbach and Lucian Freud, who remain influences both in terms of technique and subject matter. Hewett’s work can be found in private collections internationally, including collections in South Africa, Dubai, Los Angeles, Zurich, Miami, London, New York and Riyadh.

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