Muted color palettes and distorted features are typical of Ryan Hewett’s work. The South African artist is best known for his iconic portraits of world-known figures — like Winston Churchill or Edie Sedgwick. His latest works continue the long-running trend of disconcerting the observer. The painter has captured the essence of his spectral subjects— and with the strokes of his brush and the layers of paint he quite literally has built a character.
Hewett creates portraits by breaking the faces and bodies of subjects into amalgams of shapes and colors; he proves himself as a worthy heir to the famous Cubist painters, evoking the style of Fernand Léger. Also, Francis Bacon and Siegmund Freud look like logical influences, as well as the contemporary artist Adrian Ghenie, but Hewett says he tries not to get too involved in other people’s art.
His technique of imposing paints thick layer contrasts with smoothly drawn lines and surface and introduces an element of chaos to the sharp edges of his works.
Hewett’s look at his subjects is impactful and original — both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.