Shed Our Skins : Maya Hewitt

Jan 10, 2018 8:28AM

An English painter whose work has a subtle Asian influence, inspired by Japanese culture as well as by her half-Filipino heritage.

Maya viewed painting as her emotional portal. As she comingling memories and past in her theatrical painting , every objects and characters appeared to be full of metaphor. Thus, when reading the exhibition title”Shed our skin”, besides receiving its literal message only (leaving the old behind and embracing the growth in physically or psychologically), audience should also be patient to discover the link between the elements and the words, then it will lead you to the key for evacuating the real story that buried below.

Consciousness reflects how outer environment reacts with individual. Maya stated that she had been influenced by Japanese animation since a little child. Rewinded back to 20 years before, which is exactly when “Ghost in the shell” and ”Akira” had just knocked into the western market and deeply effected many of the greatest creators with its imagination of future technology and blended aesthetic of east-western style. Till now, our society is ironically realising itself becoming a world exactly as how those story depicted-manipulated by hi-tech and nowhere to escape. Although Maya was born in this young generation,information blasts and social network bomb have never made her comfortable. Distance hold by crowds in reality throw her into anxiety.People in mask and puppets that continuously appeared since 2015 could be took as a symbol of the contemporary citizens who lacks emotional bond and left only performative reaction.

Despite conveying anxiety, high-tech like Virtual-reality and AI may also enlightened the artist in a philosophical way. Nowadays, the boundary between physical and virtuality keeps blurring. Following with the huge breakthrough in AI these days,mind-body dualism that explains the departing of Body and Mind by philosopher Descartes, might be more than a hypothesis. Maya exaggerated the importance of “consciousness” that people is gradually losing under their “Skin” through painted out those empty shell and distant body standing at daily space, such as record shop, zoo, museum. Perhaps in Maya’s perspective, painting could be her very true mind after shedding facial skin.Painting is a consequence of a free mind without body’s restriction and can break physical limitation and linear-time rule; Moreover, it can truly share collective sub-consciousness with others. Considered the background behind, it could be a misunderstanding by simply tagged Maya’s illusionistic works as surreality, whereas a sincere reflection of this Hyperreal generation could be a recognition that is closer to the core of her art.

Untitled (2016) / 10.6 x 13.8 inches / Oil on board

Untitled (2016) / 9.4 x 12.6 inches / Oil on board

Hyperreality refers to a crowd that chased by piles of information and controlled by infinite desire.However, Maya made a slight difference by giving those anonymous mask man a clear and deep eyes, where used to be a blank hole only.It reminds us Batou,the role that owned a mechanic body in movie”ghost in the shell”. In that kind of condition, the one reason that gives him faith in believing himself is still a human, is because the emotion he sensed every time when he looked at his pet dog. The stare must looks exactly as the heated eyes that Maya drew in each isolated picture. I assume this slight change shows the belief from the artist, that there are always something warm streaming beneath, and will eventually shows after shedding our skin.