Contrary to the tradition of verisimilitude, for Hewett the portrait is not about capturing an external likeness of a subject; but rather as a portal to an inner journey of self-exploration. Hewett does not use sitters or models in an effort to produce a realistic depiction. Although photographs constitute his starting point, he relies principally on the free-flowing processes of memory and creative imagination. His portraits encapsulate the truism; that the subject matter of all art is, ultimately the self. “Many of the works start out as self-portraits, but I try not to paint with preconception,” he explains. “The images need to evolve on the canvas.” In the twelve years that he has practiced as a full-time artist, Hewett’s technique has evolved from the tightly wrought pencil drawings of his early oeuvre into the looser layered surfaces of his more recent work. This is due to his accomplished handling of oils which he applies to canvas with quick almost brutal splashes of the palette knife Through blending, edging, detailing and scraping off painterly layers, Hewett’s imagery is textured and richly hued, conveying both complexity and raw emotion. Morphing from realism to abstraction, his portraits evoke a tension between external representation and what lies beneath. As such, Hewett explores the polarities inherent in the internal and external components of portraiture. He embraces the binaries between self and other, revealing that always the twain shall meet. Ryan Hewett lives and works in the Natal midlands with his wife Shaleen and their young son Eli.