A natural progression from his 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. The global centre for trans-humanism is California and more specifically Los Angeles so UTA Artist Space is a perfect setting for the show. 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 hybridized 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.
“Ryan is one of the most sought-after artists working right now, especially here in Los Angeles where he has many dedicated collectors. We are incredibly excited to work with Unit London to show Ryan’s newest paintings; it is a rare opportunity for us to see the extraordinary, innate talent he possesses,”said Arthur Lewis, UTA Fine Arts Creative Director.
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, such as H1, H2, and H3, 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 symbolizes 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+ emphasizes 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.
Ryan Hewett: H+ presented by Unit London & UTA Artist Space December – 18th, 2021 UTA Artist Space, Beverly Hills utaartistspace.com
About the artist
Born in 1979 and described by critic and curator Edward Lucie-Smith as ‘one of South Africa’s most distinguished painters today’, Ryan Hewett is renowned for his brooding and evocative paintings. Yet his portraits are not about capturing an external likeness of a subject, but rather creating a portal to the inner journey of self-exploration. In so doing, the artist relies principally on the intuitive processes of memory and imagination. Using a variety of oil painting techniques, from brushes to knives, Hewett’s extensive knowledge draws on renowned movements within art history. His structured forms and psychedelic colours allude to Cubist portraits and Surrealist landscapes, while his body-length portraits recall Renaissance medical diagrams of the human anatomy. Hewett has exhibited extensively in art fairs, group and solo exhibitions in major cities around the world. His most recent institutional exhibition took place at The Goss Michael Foundation in Dallas in 2019. His work can be found in various international private and public collections, including the Goss Michael Foundation, Fine Art Centre, Taiwan, The Recharge Foundation, Emergentes Art Foundation and the Dean Collection, to name a few.