Skill, Discipline, Training

LEWER, Richard
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Skill, Discipline, Training
Paramount Award Winner of the 2008 Wallace Art Awards

Skill, Discipline, Training is one of the nine works of Richard Lewer’s Billiard Table Series, painted directly on recovered billiard or pool table felt. The artist tells us that the material itself has the potential to hold stories or parts of speech by having witnessed these throughout its ‘life’. Lewer references the Texan serial killer Richard Ramirez, the ‘Night Stalker’, who according to urban legend was arrested in 1985 after bragging about his exploits to friends while shooting pool. The fact that this version of Ramirez’s story is incorrect matters less than what Lewer is saying about his own engagement and interest in popular media – that narrative arises from an intense ‘mediation’ with the things in front of and around the painter. The painter’s role is to ‘listen’ to the material even as the material resists giving up what it has borne witness to.

Sport is a major axis of Lewer’s art, both in terms of subject matter and art practice, and with Lewer the latter has occasionally risen to the level of athletic performance. But the analogy of art to sport that this implies is not an exact one: the painter can only impose a training regimen on himself, not on his material. A beautiful and at the same time disquieting aspect of this painting is the strange photo-negative effect that the artist achieves – material and subject matter are brought together tightly as the final result of the work tells us of its own development. This is a painting about painting – the artist looks uneasily back at us while behind him the portrait on the easel is either arrogating some power to itself, or pouring something vital back out into the room. A similar arch or sweeping movement appears in another of the Billiard Table paintings, The Arthur Allen Thomas Case (2007). There however the arch represents a road or driveway leading us up to what may be a reference to the house of New Zealand murder victims Harvey and Jeanette Crewe.

Richard Lewer was the McCahon House Artist-in-Residence September to November 2008.

Catalogue text:
Published on the occasion of the Twenty Wallace Art Awards Paramount Winners Exhibition,14 February to 22 April 2012 at The Pah Homestead, TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre and 2 August to 30 September 2012 at the Wallace Gallery Morrinsville.
Synthetic polymer paint on billiard-table cloth
1200 x 2000mm
Signed and dated
Accession number

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