FAD Magazine writer Lee Sharrock spoke to her favourite upcoming artists at The Other Art Fair over the weekend, for a special TOAF edition of #TheUpcoming. First up is Kay Gasei, a London-based mixed media artist whose eye-catching canvases and prints weave together ancient myths and legends with classical and Egyptian iconography. These are fused with a reaction to important contemporary issues such as the murder of George Floyd and the #BlackLivesMatter movement, to create a contemporary magical realism that leaps off the canvas. Gasei’s art is so alive and fresh, it has a sense of the urgent and liberated mark-making of Basquiat, combined with the mythological style of Marcel Dzama.
Lee Sharrock: How did the pandemic and lockdowns affect your creativity? Did it give you more time to be creative and reflect on life, and did that inform the work you made in the last year?
Kay Gasei: Oh yeah! Massively! Before lockdown, I was chugging along doing my commissions and in a rhythm which was good but knew I was stagnating a little, not having the energy to do something different. Then boom, all this free time! I started doing pieces for me again in rapid succession and trying out new styles and techniques, as well as trying to imbue my work with my ideas in a different fashion than before.
I’m not a meticulous person by any means, but I like details and usually try to weave some symbols and Easter eggs in my work with loose planning and free-associative style of play but then with the murder of George Floyd and protests worldwide, I did a few pieces which were just visceral responses and felt different and resonated with a lot of people as well, and that internal shift of feeling a little more than thinking moved my work to an even more expressive style.
What was the path you took to become an artist, and can you give a brief summary of your work and the meaning behind it?
Hahaha oh god, guess I’ll give you the short answer! I worked part-time jobs, actually, my first job outside of uni was for a commercial printer which was full-time but soon moved back to London and so left that. Back to the story, I worked part-time then freelance then part-time then freelanced for a good while then full-time then back to freelance. Whilst in other employment I still took on commissions and had my clothing brands I’m involved in.
My work and the meaning behind it? jheez louise lol, erm I like myths and narratives, I like concepts and ideas and basically use my work as a way of fully grasping – or so I think – what I’ve been looking into.