Born in Aotearoa, Richard Lewer currently lives in Melbourne. His work is politically and culturally engaged, and imbued with a wry sense of humour. Crudely painted on sandpaper, the works included in Pacific Real Time explore contemporary life and its everydayness, frequently employing text.
The artist jibes at the art world, suggesting, “Don’t be an artist”; at our antipodean environment, warning, “Keep out of the sun”; and at ‘clean eating’ obsessions, with phrases like “Superfoods” and “Organic chicken”. Other pieces are more sombre, musing, “There is always someone worse off” and “I thought God was meant to be on my side”. Together, the works are an outpouring, a stream of consciousness from a social realist keen to comment on matters we might prefer to ignore.
Lewer’s work often refers to or recalls the art of other New Zealanders. In their heavy use of text and bold, simplified imagery, these pieces may be understood to echo paintings by Colin McCahon, John Reynolds, and Peter Robinson.
Image: Richard Lewer, Untitled, 2016. Courtesy of Gow Langsford Gallery and the artist.