Ryan Hewett’s “New Paintings” at Unit London

11 works of brooding portraiture and figurative anatomy

A geometric extension of the eerie, abstract portraiture that South African painter Ryan Hewett presented at Unit London back in 2016, New Paintings sees 11 provocative pieces take the spotlight. Hewett’s fourth exhibition with the gallery broadens the artist’s subject matter to include complex, figurative anatomy. Together, layers of tone and form birth colorful characters that truly captivate. Hewett’s latest happens to also mark the occasion of Unit London’s one year anniversary at their Hanover Square flagship location. It lends the big, beautiful space a transformative, reflective sensibility.

Acting as a centerpiece for the 2019 works, “Memories” is referred to by the gallery as Hewett’s most prolific piece to date. A year of work went into the large-scale painting, which can best be described as a scene of characters. Our favorite, however, “Minx” blends the bestial with the human. Many of the other works seem to dissect the human form, or parts of it. These confront the viewer most. They ask to be looked at up close, and it’s here that Hewett’s complex oil work and countless textures reveal themselves.

Hewett’s command of mood offers life to his works. When eyes gaze out from some paintings, there’s life to be found. That means, at Unit London the walls are watching—and it’s quite an experience.

New Paintings is on now through 13 July.

Images by David Graver