South African artist Ryan Hewett looks straight to the core of his subjects in boldly expressive paintings. For his upcoming exhibition “Untitled” at the Unit London, opening April 24th, Hewett depicts world leaders and influencers as we aren’t used to seeing them. His portraits of President Obama, JFK, Martin Luther King, and Contemporary artists like Ai Weiwei are stripped down to the most vague details. If there is any power to be represented, it is in his gestural technique, heavily influenced by figurative painters like Frank Auerbach. By focusing on the raw human nature of his subjects, Hewett creates a non-specific portrayal that is free of judgement. Instead, the viewer is encouraged to make his or her own opinions. Images of revered icons like Ghandi and dictators like Adolf Hitler are executed with the same brush and palette; fluid and peaceful, or brutally aggressive at the same time. This brings to light a frightening truth, that the power to do good or despicable evil exists within all of us.
Ryan Hewett in his studio