ARTIST STUDY: Richard Lewer

Richard Lewer’s works cover a diverse array of medium, subject matter, scale and styles.  He has drawings, paintings, animations, video and performance art, incorporating portraiture and landscapes, sculptural and installation based works as well as intervening with found objects such as maps for irreverent social commentary.

His works are not realistic, but maintain a firm grounding in ‘social realism’ – as a way of representing a deeper underlying truth about social and cultural phenomena.  That is to say he aims to capture his subjects as they are, without adhering to any formal aesthetic realist mode of representation.

The series “In The Blue Corner” demonstrates this approach.  The figures are moody, emotional and verging on caricature, but they capture an emotional reality of the event from which the subject is drawn:

a painting of a boxer
In the Blue Corner
YEAR.   2014
MEDIUM.   Oil on board
DIMENSIONS. 300mm x 220mm
SERIES.  In the Blue Corner
CATEGORY. Painting
A painting of a boxer
In the Blue Corner
YEAR.   2014
MEDIUM.   Oil on board
DIMENSIONS. 600mm x 390mm
SERIES.  In the Blue Corner
CATEGORY: Painting

The “Blue Corner” of the title refers to the underdog status of certain contenders, and sourced from archival photos, such as the controversial first round Heavyweight Championship victory of Muhammed Ali over Sonny Liston – captured by Neil Leifer in 1967.

“Get up and fight, sucker” – credit Neil Leifer 1967

Other works are text based interventions on found objects; maps or flags become the canvas for acidic commentary on Australian cultural fragility:

Text on a Flag
The History of Australia
YEAR.     2018
SERIES.   The History of Australia
CATEGORY. Painting
text on a map  
Fit in or fuck off 
YEAR.       2013 
MEDIUM.     Enamel on found school map 
DIMENSIONS. 9000mm x 800mm 
SERIES.     9 day swing 
CATEGORY. Painting 

The Sullivan and Strumpf Gallery artist profile for their website notes his work “probes what is beautiful and sinister about our society without injecting a moralising tone or political message” – but with the overt politicisation of these objects: maps and flags which are manifest artifacts of colonisation – now bluntly defaced – it is difficult to resist his unequivocal commentary on (white) Australian Cultural Homogeneity and the insecurities which surround our place on this continent.

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