Sam Hewitt at Dynamite Gallery - A Magician with a Paintbrush

It’s good to be back, and what an exhibition to come back too.

Usually at private views there are conversations about the work, but 60-70% of the conversations are about other things. On Thursday night the work was the talk, a true definition of a private view. This comes as no surprise, the more you look Sam Hewitt’s pieces on the wall, and the more you allow his ideas to permeate your consciousness the more messages you see staring back at you.

Upon brief inspection the exhibition is made up of 8 landscapes in the city, capturing movement, light and people within the city of Brighton. Hewitt is obsessed with early morning and late evening, that magical time of twilight which he captures through his masterful use of colour and unique painting style. His brushwork is frugal, with the simple brushstrokes constructing a transient landscape where the figures and the city are one. This transiency is most stark in “To Infinity & Beyond” where the main figure of the piece is almost ethereal and haunting, who I wouldn’t consider real if it wasn’t for his shadow.

After about an hour of the private view Hewitt took the floor to give some insight into his work. Hewitt said: “I often paint over old paintings to give me something to work against. But the real subjects in my paintings are the shadows. I shan’t say much more than: look at the shadows, and decode the titles.”

For me, this was perhaps a bit much, but it also invited the audience to look deeper into the paintings and realised my initial instincts and observations may bear fruit. Thirty minutes after the brief speech I was enjoying a cigarette outside and saw exactly what he was talking about.

Following the shadows, like a surreal bloodhound, and exploring the composition of “Ten Past Ten”, I saw the anomaly staring back at me. It was morning and evening simultaneously; truly time travel in its purest form. A capturing of two moments on the same canvas, subtle enough to slip by me for an hour and a half but when the moment came, impossible to un-see. This is the most exciting and exhilarating feeling I’ve had at an exhibition for a good few years and allowed me to enjoy his paintings all over again. And again and again, I saw and re-saw elements and aspects of his pieces I couldn’t see before. As Hewitt remarked himself when I was talking about his work, “A true ying and yang moment between us.”

There are so many layers to his work, from the stunning use of colour to the subtle codes he leaves in his paintings, arming you with the keys to unlock them, and finally the humour embedded in all of them. Henry Gomez, the owner of Dynamite Gallery, has been excited about this since Brighton Art Fair, and finally I can see why. A great scalp for his young gallery.

Truly, I absolutely loved this exhibition. Hewitt is a magician with a paintbrush, the Brightonian king of artistic misdirection, and with a damn fine colour palette. Brighton has a great artist in its midst, one we should enjoy together.