The synthesis of myths and stories inspires London-based artist Kay Gasei. Relishing the intricate aspects and intimacy that stories hold, he utilises an innovative approach of his inspiration merged with cultures, past, present and extinct.
These entities are the underlying framework of his paintings. He moulds the Hellenic aesthetic’s mythical attributes derived from Greek mythology to devise a new take on the artistic realm to communicate his narrative.
I’m into stories and myths. I like details and intimacy, which attracts me to stories because you can find little escapes
His well-thought-out expressions are accomplished and entice the viewer to venture into the artist’s mythological universe. That is boldly distinguished and manifests his desire for storytelling by his refined yet distinct brush.
Gasei is a painter to keep a keen eye on as he continues to develop his practice. He was mentioned as an artist to watch by The Other Art Fair’s founder Ryan Stainer.
Recently, one of his original works, titled ‘Power to the People; We Back To Do Maintenance’, sold for £6.5K as the connoisseurs swiftly acquire the rising star’s body of work. We manage to catch up with the artist shortly after exhibiting at The Other Art Fair to learn more about his practice, creative process and what’s next for him as an artist.
Q: For those who don’t know you, can you please introduce yourself?
A: Yo, I’m Kay Gasei
Q: What is your inspiration, and why do you do what you do?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: 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?
A: Learning, even if it’s about myself but mainly out there, what stuff means.