From Sharne Wolff…
It might have been accidental, but for an artist whose practice is concerned with drawing attention to the lives of those who inhabit society’s extremes, the timing of Richard Lewer’s latest exhibition couldn’t be more fitting. Lewer recently spent a month in Parnngurr – a remote Aboriginal community on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert, around 370 kilometres from the mining town of Newman. Not long after, the Western Australian government announced plans to shut down up to 150 remote communities across that State. Lewer’s portraits of the people of the Parnngurr community bring a human face to the lives of these and many others who resilience has persisted in the face of cultural dislocation.
While exchanging knowledge with the Martu artists and others in Parnngurr, Lewer painted their portraits. Possessing the qualities of social realism without being overtly political, Lewer’s stripped back paintings in blocks of solid colour are simple but very effective in communicating the humanity of his subjects. In a visually uncluttered manner, he records a community of complex individuals. Through piercing gazes and body language, as seen through the eyes of the artist, much anguish is revealed. While his portraits carefully observe every emotion from suspicion to melancholy and sadness, it’s lamentable that any signs of hope appear to be absent.
Until April 11
Sullivan and Strumpf Fine Art, Zetland
Pic: Richard Lewer, Muuki Taylor 2014, oil on canvas, 75 x 75 cm. Courtesy the artist and Sullivan + Strumpf.