We were lucky enough to catch The Other Art Fair contributing artist, Brian Sayers for a chat about his work. Brian Sayers paints objects, laid out on table-tops, almost resembling altarpieces. These objects occupy the entire pictorial space. Sayers has been pre-occupied with this subject, almost without exception, since he first exhibited with Long & Ryle in 1992. Despite the museum-like hush in which these objects dwell, they slowly become imbued with a range of human emotions: from anxiety, to quotidian contentment by way of a dream- like introspection; all seem present in the internal arguments of these compositions.
Still Life with Goya, Brian Sayers
Your paintings such as Spiritualized and Pegwell are beautifully unique in their composition and presentation of depth and dimension, where and how did that style develop?
They are based on a variety of influences including Indian painting with their multiple viewpoints and Cubists’ interpenetration of forms. As they discovered, it emphasises play of shape and colour on the picture plane allowing a non-illusionistic dynamic. William Scott’s paintings were a Modern catalyst in this development, from when I was a student.
Spiritulized, Brian Sayers
‘Ecce Homo’ has been portrayed many times historically, yours is one of the most original I’ve seen, can you talk us through this piece?
Although I have no religious leanings, the use of Christian imagery here still seemed possible, just as Francis Bacon uses the crucifixion as a general symbol for the violence done to other human beings. I placed ‘Ecco Homo’ amongst the general detritus of everyday objects to suggest ‘the banality of evil’. As Auden wrote: ‘while some one is eating or opening a window’ (from ‘Ecole des Beaux Arts’). Everyday objects are often used to perpetrate these acts. (see next question).
The everyday, the quotidian, seems to haunt your paintings, and so your works have been analysed and read through philosophical lenses, is there a philosophy to the way you work?
I think if you try to make art there has be some idea behind it, otherwise it is just decoration. But I wouldn’t really distinguish my work as having a philosophy as such. It’s to a large extent a reaction to the world I inhabit with all its absurdities. Objects seem to be conspirators in this, in the way they are always clogging our space or going wrong.
Your mixed media work is rather different to your painting, is there something you can do in this medium you can’t achieve with paint?
I started these to allow other elements to have free associative play in ways I found difficult in oil painting. By including collage elements I could collaborate with something other than my own thoughts about composition, subject matter etc. It also speeded up my response to the work. I tried to introduce this back into my paintings, as in ‘Pegwell’, but there is always the pleasure of surprise in collage if it works well, in the crossing of visual species barriers.
Insects, Brian Sayers
What made you want to work with Art on a Postcard at The Other Art Fair 2018?
It’s good that art might make some difference to people’s lives, and be a source of surprise and amusement, as well as be intriguing in its own right.
Keep your eyes peeled for Brian's Secret Auction piece, as it's sure to be a favourite.