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Richard Lewer

New Zealand, Australia

Born: Hamilton, New Zealand 1970

Richard Lewer, photo: Andrew Curtis


Born in New Zealand in 1970, Richard Lewer has lived and worked in Melbourne since 1996. He is a painter, draughtsman, printmaker, sculptor and video artist, whose work presents an unsparing vision of the human condition.

Lewer is interested in the stories of other people – those he has encountered in his own life or observed from a distance, including the past. He is never afraid of grappling with difficult subjects or the darker side of life. His work is uncompromising in its expression of human extremes and deeply personal, presenting his subjects with empathy and without judgement.

Lewer studied at the Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland and the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne. He has undertaken residencies in Australia and New Zealand and been awarded the APW Collie Print Trust Fellowship (2020), the Paul Guest Prize for Drawing (2020), Basil Sellers Art Prize (2016), Blake Prize (2014), National Works on Paper Drawing Award (2010), and the Wallace Art Award (2008). He has exhibited his work extensively in Australia and New Zealand, including two survey exhibitions: I Must Learn to Like Myself at the Waikato Museum of New Zealand (2010) and Nobody Likes a Show-Off at Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne (2009). His work is represented in major public and private collections in Australia and overseas, including the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

In 2020 Lewer was one of the artists commissioned by the Art Gallery to create work for the Sydney Modern Project, the transformation of the institution into a two-building art museum campus. After spending time on the construction site observing and talking to the workers, he created a large multi-panel painting and a suite of drawings. Onsite, construction of Sydney Modern which resides on the lands of the Gadigal of the Eora Nation 2020–21 tells the story of the construction of the new building, which opens 3 December 2022, and of some of the people who were involved in it. ‘Painting is a lonely sport,’ says Lewer, ‘so it’s great when I can get out and become involved with different people’s lives.’

Other works by Richard Lewer

View all 25 works