3 December to 7 April 2024

Adam and Eve

Through twelve paintings, Richard Lewer examines the creation story of Adam and Eve, central to Abrahamic religions. Particular to Christianity is how this story of the original human couple also represents the concept of ‘original sin’ and ‘the fall of man’. The story has served as a source of inspiration and commentary by artists throughout the history of Western art.

Lewer’s series sits in association with the Carved retable of the Passion of Christ, also known as the Antwerp altarpiece (c. 1511–20) – created as a didactic edifice for the contemplation by the faithful. The associationof this significant historical work with Lewer’s series is indicative of how people have always and continue to look to biblical stories for self-examination and understanding of their contemporary world.

Each painting in Lewer’s series represents a chapter or section of the Adam and Eve myth, where figures and elements, such as the serpent and animals in the Garden of Eden seem to emerge from Lewer’s staining of the unprimed canvas. The stain – also a metaphor for evolution – takes its own shape, depending on the application of paint and its dilution. The paintings include allusions to the current climate crisis and global conflicts among others, built up through further staining and layers of paint.

The NGV Triennial is on display at the National Gallery of Victoria from 3 December to 7 April 2024.