Summoning the Subconscious: Interview with Sam Hewitt

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Sam Hewitt’s paintings represent the streets of Brighton and the colourful characters that inhabit them. His paintings are almost dreamlike in shades of pinks, purples and mauve. They are haunted by elongated shadows that move across the canvas, representing the passage of time. In the ‘Place Where we Understand Each Other’ an angry man confronts the viewer, with his red face and aggressive stride. The ‘Hintergedanke’ exhibition at the Dynamite Gallery in Brighton showcases the artists’ finest work. I have a chat with Sam Hewitt to find out more about the inspiration behind his ethereal paintings.

Who are your favourite artists?
David Lynch, Jeff Koons, Joseph Beuys and Tracy Emin.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration appears to exist, for me, in the space between people and events when my reactions to anger, shame, fear, joy and sadness take an atypical direction. I find that programming wanderlust into my emotional sat-nav causes collision with inspiration pockets.

Do your paintings represent the streets of Brighton?
The paintings can often be said to represent streets and if the viewer knows Brighton they can usually spot which ones. Over the last few years, however, they have become about the people. The people in the paintings represent projections of my inner voices and the relationships between them.

Disclaimer
Disclaimer

Can you tell me a bit more about ‘Disclaimer’?
The first layer is acrylic paint pressed through a series of stencils making a Fibonacci spiral. The letters spell the words ‘We are painters not artists: we are playing with forms that have been fully explored by others’. I painted this after exhibiting at another in a long line of affordable ‘art’ fairs. I think there is a certain amount of misdirection involved in the way the word art is used in this marketplace.

In my opinion, painting reached the beginning of the end as a relevant art form when Barnett Newman and the other abstract expressionists took the notion of sublime beauty and reflected it back at the viewer. Everything since has been, by definition, less significant and derivative. As visual art moved into other media, painting has been faced with the burden of its own self delusion. The spiral of words consciously references Bruce Nauman’s statement in 1967 that ‘The true artist helps the world by revealing mystic truths’.

The Place Where we Understand Each Other
The Place Where we Understand Each Other

Can you tell me a bit more about ‘The Place Where We Understand Each Other’?
The ‘we’ in this painting are:
(1) My conscious and unconscious minds,
(2) The two different paintings one on top of the other,
(3) The young man in the painting and myself.

As the man passed me and I took his photo he snarled ‘delete that off your camera mate’. The phrase ‘The Place Where We Understand Each Other’ came to me during a moment when I understood that I was at my most alive and actually fulfilling my potential as an animal when summoning my unconscious landscape into the territory of my conscious mind.

The ‘Hintergedanke’ exhibition takes place at the Dynamite Gallery in Brighton until the 2nd October. The exhibition takes you into another world dominated by shadows and surreal shoppers. You can also see the artist’s work at the Moniker Art Fair at the Truman Brewery on Brick Lane from thursday 6th October to Sunday 9th October.