Sullivan+Strumpf Sydney is proud to present As I stepped out into the bright sun light, a new solo exhibition by Richard Lewer that draws on the artist’s personal experiences of loss and responds to the pain and destruction caused by Australia’s bushfire disaster – opening 13 – 28 March 2020.
Comprising of paintings, drawings and ceramics, the exhibition is inspired by the Melbourne artist’s ongoing social realist practice of responding and reacting to the world he inhabits.
A new series of drawings documents Lewer’s reaction to social commentary about climate change and his visit to communities devastated by bushfire in East Gippsland, Victoria in the aftermath of the fires. The distinctive landscape drawings document his sobering and empathetic observations of charred landscapes and people in the bush confronting disaster and loss. Meanwhile, people in urban settings are depicted wearing face masks, beset by smoke pollution and ash, soon to be plagued by the outbreak of COVID-19.
The artist collected references from newspapers and TV news reports about the devastation of the bushfires and smoke haze, before driving to one of the badly affected areas to meet the people affected people and witness the destruction first-hand.
The exhibition features a deeply personal work, titled Burial in Hamilton, 2019, through which Lewer responds to the loss of his mother. This painting, created using oil on epoxy coated copper, brass, steel, references burial vault photos to express grief.
A series of crucifixes, titled There is light and dark in us all, 2018, are the result of the artist’s therapeutic practice of making one cross a day and reflect on the personal significance of the cross, stemming from the artist’s strict Catholic upbringing,
As I stepped out into the bright sunlight explores the extremes of the human condition and the patterns of behaviour displayed by people experiencing loss. Often in these pivotal moments when something is suddenly lost, we gain a profound appreciation for more contented times.
Lewer has exhibited extensively in Australia and overseas and his work is included in many important state museums and university collections in Australia and New Zealand. Recent exhibitions include us. universal stories, Museum of Art and Culture Lake Macquarie, (2019); Weapons for the Soldier, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre, Sydney (2018); State of the Union, Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne (2018).