Richard Lewer's 10-4 at Melbourne Art Fair

Orexart will present Lewer’s ‘10-4’ as a solo presentation, replicating his densely worked s

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Richard Lewer has just done six months hard labour in New York. As winner of the 2008 Wallace Art Awards, he was provided a studio from February to June 2010 at New York International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) in Brooklyn.
 

Richard Lewer has just done six months hard labour in New York. As winner of the 2008 Wallace Art Awards, he was provided a studio from February to June 2010 at New York International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) in Brooklyn.
 
During his residency, Lewer’s constant studio companions were the staticky voices coming over a radio scanner, tuned into the NYPD frequency.

 Initially struck by the incessant flow of New York crime, Lewer says “if you turn on the scanner here, it’s 24-7. You can hear it in the cops’ voices; it’s just another day—another crappy day—and there’s shit they have to deal with.”

Through visually recording what he heard, Lewer immersed himself the confounding and confronting city of New York, and created a unique and challenging body of work.

Called 10-4, the universal police scanner code for ‘message received’, the series is comprised of paintings filled with both humour and horror, describing the ‘desperation, mania, violence and mishap’ of daily life in the city that doesn’t sleep.

Lewer describes his painting process: “I might pick up something like “Assault…Hispanic male…yellow shirt…’ or “Gimme your money, bitch!’” on the scanner, and from that, I’ll start a painting, but one that changes as fresh stories or more details arise.”

Within this metropolis, Lewer marked off his own small territory, covering his studio walls with text, blending fragments of overhead conversation on the radio and the street with his own internal monologue, and blurring the boundaries between the comfortable and the threatening, the personal and the impersonal.

Lewer’s obsessive monitoring of other lives is more observant than voyeuristic. Describing his practice, Chris McAuliffe (Director of Melbourne’s Ian Potter Museum of art) says “Empathy has played a large role in Lewer’s art. Not the common-sense empathy as ‘feeling for someone’ but a deeper empathy that relates to an artist’s capacity to engage with and represent the world.”

OREXART will present Lewer’s ‘10-4’ as a solo presentation, replicating his densely worked studio space as an installation, at the forthcoming Melbourne Art Fair, 3 – 7 August.

Richard Lewer is now in Melbourne doing final preparations for the installation of his work. If you’d like to get in touch with Richard about his New York experience, please contact:

Jennifer Buckley at orex@xtra.co.nz or by phone on 09 379 0588

Written by

Jennifer Buckley

29 Jun 2010