For David Stanley Hewett, it was inevitable that his artistic career would lead him to Japan. From the time he began studying karate at the age of 14, Japanese thought and culture shaped his aesthetic views and artistic process. After studying Japanese art and history in the United States, he pursued further studies and built his career as an artist in Japan, where he has lived for over 25 years. Influenced by Bushido, the Samurai way of life, Hewett incorporates the discipline, strength and spirituality of that practice into his many-faceted body of work. He is a potter and has designed textiles and clothing in addition to his career as a painter. In all of those media, his art shows a refined multi-leveled simplicity, eliciting a feeling of contemplation and serenity while also exhibiting power and energy.
Using a palette that largely consists of three colors—red, black and gold—Hewett creates graphically arresting images that use stark contrasts to represent the dynamic force lying beneath the surface of a seemingly peaceful world. Those three colors have an elemental significance for the artist. Red represents the passion and spirit of the samurai, while black signifies discipline and gold stands for elegance and refinement. The images that result from those colors have the clarity and precision of calligraphy, but Hewett’s style contributes another level of meaning. His images juxtapose intense areas of color with delicately applied gold leaf, often adding bold strokes or splashes of paint that give them a sense of movement, spontaneity and drama.
But the meaning of Hewett’s paintings comes from more than just colors or composition. Following on his training as a potter, he says he approaches the art of painting as a potter would. “Technique and process are equally important to me as the emotion and inspiration which drives the content of the painting,” he says. In fact, that focus on process is one of the major factors that led him to the study and practice of Japanese art. Embodying traditional Japanese principles through a unique world view, his art creates a world all its own.