P A I N T E R S O N P A I N T I N G
E L L E N A L T F E S T
A P O S T O L O S G E O R G I O U
I M R A N Q U R E S H I
H E L E N J O H N S O N
H E N R Y T A Y L O R
M A R K S A D L E R
R O S E W Y L I E
L Y N E T T E Y I A D O M - B O A K Y E
At a time of revolution in digital technologies,
when making extraordinary images has never
been technically easier, painting persists.
Jennifer Higgie asked eight artists to share their
thoughts on the whys and wherefores of
Painting gives me a sense of the world as I’ve lived it, since I paint about
experiences and encounters. I meet my several selves somewhere in the
midst of painting: one is a kind of itinerant intellectual who wants to use
painting to make a point about history, culture and language; the other is a
hollow shell through which painting passes, making weird noises as it goes.
When you paint, you’re in competition with painters of the past. You
say to them: ‘It was easier for you. There was less competition from other
art forms, lucky bastards!’ You confront art history attempting to do something
almost impossible: to interrupt its voracious flow with your own
subjective sense of the world hoping to obtain a result that will feel active
and not subservient to the past. This process can be humbling, since the
paintings of artists you most admire continually rise up in the midst of your
When I paint, the figures – which are always recollections of experiences
and never simply images absorbed through visual grazing – are
amongst the least solid or most volatile of any element. Photography does
a particularly good job of representing the surface of a body – the wrinkles,
bruises and faded tattoos – but my approach is to step away from those
levels of information. People are the least permanent things in the world,
moving through it and leaving behind the solid phenomena of chairs, rooms
and windows for the next lot to inhabit. With that in mind, I construct my
figures in line or as silhouettes, thinking mostly about movement and translucency.
The resultant schematic shells are there for the viewer to inhabit,
rather than as symbolic protagonists to animate a narrative. I work from
life, from memory, from sketches or using photographs as aide-mémoires.
Our perception has many subjective filters – the mind, the body, the
memory – and because of painting’s huge range of possibilities from representation
to pure abstraction, it has the ability to invent and find surprising
new forms for non-visible phenomena. The coloured vectors that often
traverse the space in my paintings, for example in Breakers (2012), are an
unconscious outpouring that takes the form of a spatialized cosmic doodle.
I prefer being described as an ‘artist’ to a ‘figurative painter’, but
please don’t ask me to talk about my ‘practice’ unless you want me to refer
you to my brother who is a dentist.
I chose to become an artist in order to live out a radical form of freedom,
traversing different territories and languages, seeking to create a
holding structure for cultural heterogeneity in my work. My earlier paintings
stay true to a personal encounter but may also presently offer a passing
geo-political topicality. Seneca (2010), however – a bunch of empty chairs
in a public space – is a painting specifically about politics. The historian
Jean-François Chevrier has spoken about ‘the politics of the empty chair’
in my work. These chairs hold a question about who might sit in them:
I want to find a common space for anybody to enter, although I know not
A figure seen from behind allows the viewer to access the picture in a
direct way. This strategy makes the entry point to the picture easy enough.
After that, other more complex registers reveal themselves gradually
through sustained contemplation; philosophical, historical, mysterious and
poetic layers that will hopefully coalesce into an experience of pleasure.
Mark Sadler is based in Glasgow, uk, and Berlin, Germany. In 2013, he
had a solo show at Krome Gallery, and his work was included in ‘Drifting’ at
Haus der Kulturen der Welt, both in Berlin. In 2014, he will present ‘Symbolic
Ecstatic’ with Elin Jakobsdottir at Fiction House, Glasgow.