BRETT CHARLES SEILER | LUKE, WARM
May 5 – Jun 3, 2023
Brett Charles Seiler | LUKE, WARM
5 May - 3 June 2023
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Everard Read London is pleased to present Luke, Warm, an exhibition of new paintings by Cape Town-based artist, Brett Charles Seiler, best known for his spare yet emotionally resonant paintings of male figures.
Queer life is a central and recurring theme in Seiler’s work and is part of the deeply personal narrative that informs his practice. The exhibition continues Seiler’s exploration of private and intimate moments between men loving men. Seiler uses the title of his exhibition as a point of departure, moving beyond references to tepid water, to hint at notions of half-heartedness, of something that is half-full, even something that is lost. The fragmentary lines of Seiler’s figures lend a sense of fragility, like fading sepia photographs “as if they could wash away into their surroundings at any moment”*
That Sinking Feeling, depicting a man with his head just above water, is Seiler’s metaphor for the human condition – “the trials and tribulations of relationships”, as he describes it. His portraits of diving men are imbued with tension as the figures leap into the unknown, while his men in bathtubs have a contemplative, pensive quality.
Seiler uses everyday materials such as bitumen and roof paint as his medium for astute observations and tender ruminations on the male body, domestic space, poetry, Queer history and literature, Christian symbolism, love, intimacy, and alienation. The scenes he depicts are frequently situated in his apartment or studio – a safe, private retreat where his protagonists interact with one another. His paintings may be populated with ordinary, domestic objects like chairs or pot plants, but they capture cinematic, freeze-frame moments of something that has happened or something that is about to happen. In these works, Seiler creates an interior world of enticing ambiguity which seems to hover between desire and anxiety.
The shifting perspective of Seiler’s larger compositions - with flatness and depth represented simultaneously - destabilise our sense of time and place and engender the feeling that we are witnessing a moment which has passed but has been memorialised. The sketchy figures haunt the painted present, just as these images will linger in our minds with their sense of tenderness and intimacy as well as vulnerability and alienation.
Seiler’s paintings are rich with visual and art historical references, such as a painting within a painting, and reclining nudes, while his series of portraits is a sensitive and non-voyeuristic approach to painting a human face.
Through his art, Seiler allows himself the space to live outside of society’s rules - to explore the body, overt sexuality and sexual taboo, and emotional vulnerability. He uses visual elements and references to offer a “sensitive navigation of his own experiences as a gay man who has lived through shame and alienation, as well as love - and the joy and anxiety that comes with it. Seiler is not afraid to engage directly with the political, but he makes the politics of gender and sexuality feel intimate and immediate. Beyond this personal/political lens, the works are an expression of his passion for artistic practice itself – through both the physical act of painting, and the history of art and culture.“*
Following successful exhibitions at Galerie Eigen+Art in Berlin in early 2023, at M+B Gallery, Los Angeles in 2022 and at Everard Read Johannesburg and Cape Town in 2022 and 2021 respectively, this is Seiler’s first solo exhibition with Everard Read London.
* Khanya Mashabela, Curator, A4 Arts Foundation, South Africa