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  • Writer's pictureJenny

Unveiling the Artistic Journey: An Exclusive Interview with London-Based Zambian Artist Kay Gasei


Kay Gasei artist
Kay Gasei in his studio. Courtesy of the artist.

Kay Gasei, a London-based artist born in 1991, traverses the intricacies of narratives and myths in his artistic practice, illuminating a realm of profound artistic exploration. Employing symbolism, recurring motifs, and enigmatic characters set within abstract spaces, Gasei breathes life into the narratives on his canvases, evoking an enigmatic allure that bewitches viewers.


Notably, Gasei's meticulous attention to detail is a hallmark of his artistic approach. With a deft hand, he weaves small yet significant elements that forge an intimate connection with the observer. As viewers engage with his pieces, they become entranced by the mystique and haunting beauty that resonates from specific sections. Each element within Gasei's oeuvre acts as a fragment of a grand puzzle, beckoning viewers to decipher their interrelationships and gradually assemble the overarching narrative within their own consciousness.


Delve into the enigmatic realm of Kay Gasei as we present our exclusive interview that unravels the artist's captivating narratives. In this conversation, Gasei unveils the influences that ignited his artistic journey, offering profound insights into his studio practice and the profound impact of the London African diaspora on his creative process. Prepare to be enthralled as Gasei shares his reflections and much more, providing a unique window into his artistic world.


Moreover, don't miss the chance to experience Gasei's talent firsthand by visiting the group exhibition "Ascension" at BSMT Space in London, open until July 2, 2023.


Continue reading the interview to gain a deeper understanding of this remarkable artist and his indelible mark on the London contemporary art scene.


 

Please tell us about your background and what inspired you to become an artist.


It’s a tough one. I have two answers - long and short versions. Short version, I started painting in a fine art capacity two years ago for my first fair, The Other Art Fair. The more complicated answer is that, as a kid, I wanted to be an architect and then an artist, but I did not really understand, in the broader, what it meant to be "an artist" other than drawing cool pictures. Not having grown up with fine art or contemporary art, decided early on, with my limited understanding and draftsmanship, I’d become an illustrator. This is what I studied at uni, then did as a freelancer from 2014 until the world stopped, and with my spare time, decided to paint some stuff I had on my mind for a while. People resonated with it, and boom.. here I am typing this to you now lol.


Kay Gasei Art
Courtesy of the artist.

How has your Zambian heritage and London upbringing influenced your art practice?


My Zambian heritage specifically, not so much as there’s not a massive Zambian community in London, and so there wasn’t a direct and continuous connection to Zambian culture other than food at home. London, though, in terms of the African diaspora and highly immigrated communities mixed with English culture, created a third culture that is not there and not completely here, or the new-here, which is why I think London isn’t like the rest of the country. So how I talk, see, and think about the world, I’m kind of spoiled being exposed to everything, which I never thought about in terms of art (it being a new thing) but more in terms of my interest in the psychology of people and sociology. I waffled and didn’t even answer.


Kay Gasei Art
Courtesy of the artist.

What does a day in your life as an artist look like?


Hmm, my perfect answer, if I’m being as diligent as I’d like, would be to wake up, do 10-minute meditation, Duolingo for 30/45 minutes, do a morning workout for the same amount of time, some sort of breakfast, and reply to some emails, messages or morning dose of social media then cycle to the studio and pretend to make something happen for hours until I’m ready to leave and then actually work and likely head to something in the evening. Maybe read somewhere in the day too. That’s like a highly functional day, and it happens at least once a week, lol. In reality, I wake up too early (I’m a short but heavy sleeper) and check messages/socials. Play something to drift off to, attempt to sleep a little longer, and then haphazardly attempt the previous routine.


Kay Gasei Art
Courtesy of the artist.

What are the major themes you pursue in your artwork?


Well, I only have my interests, so mainly myths, history, and current events, viewed through the lens of cultural capital. That’s as succinct as I’ve ever said that, but then I’m interested in most fields in the humanities, and I try to weave in Easter eggs of things I learn in my work without being overly descriptive in execution.

Kay Gasei Art
Courtesy of the artist.

I first came across your artwork at The Other Art Fair in 2021, in which you were awarded the Kate Bryan Soho House Award, a year-long mentoring program, and membership at Soho House. Since then, you have been very busy participating in over 20 shows. Can you share one of the most memorable experiences in your career thus far?


Most memorable experience? Winning the prize was quite cool, but more so how it happened because I didn’t know it existed until I’d won it, and a camera was facing me with Kate Bryan saying I’d won, lol. Mmm, my face on the Piccadilly screen is really hard to top. As a Londoner and seeing it as a kid, and then I’m on it, it's very surreal! Then I’d say being featured in a German newspaper for Black History Month, that was pretty exciting, and I felt like, okay, if this art stuff doesn’t continue, at least I was in a newspaper, which is very dope.


Kay Gasei
Courtesy of the artist.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?


Mmm, go all in, which is easier said than done, but once doing it, you’re kinda like, yeah, this makes more sense than any other option. Also, I guess the actual nudge by Zoe at The Other Art Fair to do it, which is the reason I painted, and then everything else followed, I think.


Kay Gasei Art
Courtesy of the artist.

And lastly, what is your favorite artwork of all time? And why?


I have two. The first is Witches Flight by Goya and Guernica by Picasso. Witches Flight, because it’s a figurative piece veering surreal in the subject, and so it feels a little abstract, and it has the aura. Guernica because it’s massive and playful in style but antithetical in subject matter, and so just works on all levels. I could waffle about both for a time, but I think that’s the crux of it.


Kay Gasei
Courtesy of the artist.

To stay up-to-date with the artist's career, make sure to follow Kay on Instagram


 

If you want to invest in Kay's career by acquiring his artwork or need help discovering similar talented artists, I can help. As an art advisor, I do the research so that you can make informed decisions when buying art. With my help, you can discover artists that best fit your taste, space, budget, and goals.


You can contact me here.


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