Richard Lewer’s new paintings are about the game of rugby.
As to be expected from a New Zealand man living abroad, they are nostalgic, and unapologetically so. Rugby became important to Lewer when he moved to Australia. He sees the game as a connecting force – for his friends, his family, and his nation.
Lewer’s social realist practice explores stories from the realms of crime, religion and sport. He sees parallels between being an artist and an athlete – both roles rely on endurance.
In this series Lewer returns to painting on steel, and employs a physically demanding process where layers of paint are built up over time. The active application of paint and heavily marked sides of the steel, create movement and suggest the controlled chaos of the game.
There are no portraits of particular players or historic matches; Lewer has instead sought to describe the essence of the game. Through the use of team colours, game formations and the imposing physicality of the figures, he depicts a familiar language in our culture. Lewer also uses symbols from his own oeuvre: by painting areas of black dots on a white ground he references the peg-board he has so often used.