Rhett Brewer is a local Sydney Artist who has been exhibiting professionally since 1981 and has over twenty five years experience as Lecturer in Painting and Drawing at The University of Western Sydney, as well as being on the Board of Directors of The Penrith Regional Gallery & Lewers Bequest (2004-05) and The Penrith Regional Gallery Exhibitions Committee.
With over 15 solo exhibitions and more than 30 major group exhibitions, Rhett has been exhibited twice in the AGNSW Sulman Prize and is recognised for his strength of detail and colour of the Australian Ocean Shore, bush and towns.
About his 2017 exhibition Rhett says, "Most of these works began with a walk and a camera. Sometimes my locations are planned but more often than not the things I notice and photograph are by chance, and the light is at least as important as the subject itself.
Light has a transformative quality that can make the ordinary look extraordinary and for me, this happens at the end of the day, when shadows are long and the things I see are illuminated with a drenching low golden light. That’s the time when day is turning into night and everything is about to change. A similar, but opposite transition happens at dawn, and those transitional times have been favoured by landscape painters with a Romantic disposition since the Seventeenth Century when painters began to take landscape seriously as a subject for painting.
I’m a painter, not a photographer. My photographs serve their purpose and end up bundled into piles in my studio, covered in paint, masking tape and footprints. I also make a lot of Plein Air paintings and I have exhibited them in this gallery. For me, both direct observational painting and studio painting are complimentary activities that differ but are essential to my practice.
I was trained in an art school that was typical of the 1970’s. My teachers were essentially Abstract Expressionists and paintings were often made by rolling canvas out on the floor and applying paint with house painting brushes, mops and sticks. Drips, splashes and “the mark” were the currency of the day and some of that freedom remains in my practice to this day but I wanted to find a use for these techniques and I saw it in nature.
When I begin a painting I use the viscosity of water in acrylic paint to drip and splash onto a canvas to approximate the chaos of nature- the cellular, atomic and sub-atomic complexity of what lays underneath what we think we see. This gestural, paint flinging stage is controlled but only loosely. The water holds the pigment and gravity carries it, as rain, surf, heat and wind shape our landscape. We see similar marks in the sand when the tide recedes, or from an aeroplane when we look down at the landscape.
When I switch to oil, I paint what is apparent when we are in the landscape, but I leave traces of what lies underneath- the chaos that lies beneath the apparent order. It provides complexity, colour, and often determines the marks I make with my oil paint.
The landscape I paint is in a state of flux; it’s complex and forever changing. As the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclites is supposed to have said- You can’t step into the same river twice. This is my subject and it determines the way I paint." Rhett Brewer 2017
Collections: Art Bank; Brian Nylan Geometric Art Collection; Transfield Collection; NSW State Parliament House Collection
Private Collections: Australia, USA, UK, and Internationally