The synthesis of myths and stories inspires London-based artist Kay Gasei. He relishes the intricate aspects and intimacy that stories hold, and he utilizes an innovative approach, merging his inspiration with cultures both past and present, as well as those that are extinct. These entities form the underlying framework of his paintings. He moulds the Hellenic aesthetic — the mythical attributes derived from Greek mythology — to devise a fresh perspective in the artistic realm and to convey his narrative.
His well-thought-out expressions are captivating, enticing the viewer to delve into the artist’s mythological universe. This realm is boldly distinctive, showcasing his passion for storytelling through his refined yet unmistakable brushwork.
I’m into stories and myths. I like details and intimacy, which attracts me to stories because you can find little escapes
Gasei is undoubtedly a painter to watch as he continues to hone his craft; recently, he was spotlighted as an artist to watch by The Other Art Fair‘s founder, Ryan Stainer. One of his original pieces, titled ‘Power to the People; We Back To Do Maintenance‘, sold for £6.5K, signalling connoisseurs’ keen interest in acquiring the rising star’s body of work. We managed to catch up with the artist shortly after he exhibited at The Other Art Fair to delve deeper into his practice, creative process, and plans for the future.
Q: For those who don’t know you, can you please introduce yourself?
Kay Gasei: Yo, I’m Kay Gasei
Q: What is your inspiration, and why do you do what you do?
Kay Gasei: Erm, inspirations! I’m into stories and myths. I like details and intimacy, which attracts me to stories because you can find little escapes and stuff that only mean something to you. Why do I do what I do? That’s a satisfying little sentence to say, lol. Erm, I’m not going to say I’m compelled or anything. I like it, and it’s my way of learning is the most succinct way I can put it.
Q: Can you tell us about your creative process?
Kay Gasei: Oooh, I read, watch and listen to a bunch of stuff, then let it incubate for as long as it needs and then draw ideas and details that I want to include in the final piece. But that’s for pieces that are heavy stories and characters. While some pieces I do outright, I think that is because they are the leftover bits of mental stuff from other pieces that didn’t fit or work.
Q: Your work features symbolic motifs with an ancient theme and some of your work highlights the plight of black people past and present. Can you tell us motivation behind this?
Kay Gasei: So a few of my pieces in the last year were based on this, four major ones exceedingly, which are rare for me because they were emotional responses where my work is usually ideas and concept-driven. With the murder of George Floyd, I did take a turn with that and have started to explore a more current political dialogue in my work but trying to keep it as organic and bonafide to my interests.
Oh, and symbolism, as I stated earlier it’s about stories and narratives; showing parallels and symbols are a fantastic way of relaying information without spoon-feeding people you know.
Q: What was the first piece of Art you created that cemented your path as an artist?
Kay Gasei: Haha, whoa, that’s a big question. Pfft, when I was a kid, I wanted to be an architect but then found out how long it’d take in uni and scrapped that lol, then just an illustrator as I thought that was the coolest sh*t in the world. In uni, I did illustration and was only into it and liked fine art.
Yet, I was super close-minded about it and then when my lecturer at the time asked me the difference between illustration and fine art and I didn’t know and tried to waffle some answer, and he said in one word, ‘intention’. I was like, oooooh! So not a piece but a conversation, lol.
Q: Covid put the art world on pause for a while. Did it influence your practice in any way?
Kay Gasei: Yeah! 100%. I’m very good at procrastinating, like a specialist! So when you’re not allowed to do anything, it gives you the time to do everything, so I just started drawing again constantly. It also gave me the space to try styles and Tekkers I never really implemented before.
Q: You recently showcased your work at The Other Art Fair. Can you tell us about the experience of the fair from the artist’s perspective?
Kay Gasei: Oh, man! It was insane! Insert many swear words there, lol. I’ve been to them for the last few years to see friends work and then find new people to watch and steal ideas from, lol but exhibiting was very cool! Talking about people’s practices when you’re a peer is a bit different than as a member of the audience, even if you are an artist, so conversations were great.
Also, I’m not a very nervous person, or someone who needs validation but hearing people’s responses to my work and even other people’s work is excellent when it’s good, and it’s cool to be inspiring to someone. Also, lousy feedback is pretty good – if it’s done respectfully.
Q: In your opinion, what is the lasting impact of Art?
Kay Gasei: Big question, I think it’s the culture of the times? I don’t know; I’ll have to think on it and get back to you on that.
Q: What’s next for you as an artist?
Kay Gasei: In the words of my friend and person, I leech studio space off, Ged Palmer of Luminor Sign co. “Gonna put some paint where it ain’t”.
Q: Lastly, what does Art mean to you?
Kay Gasei: Learning, even if it’s about myself but mainly out there, what stuff means.