Brian Sayers paints objects, laid out on table-tops, almost resembling altarpieces. Sayers has been pre-occupied with this subject, almost without exception, since he first exhibited with Long & Ryle in 1992. This exhibition ‘The Painter’s Table’ continues to explore Sayers’ fascination with an assembly of various household vessels and implements. Sayers imbues the objects with a status, as if displayed in a museum and we can only guess as to their meaning within the language of still life.
The paintings in this exhibition are an assortment of everyday objects, some related to the kitchen or even the laboratory. These pictorial landscapes of objects are contrasted with allusions to hidden events or dramas involving figures quoted from other art works, which we see in Breughel’s Icarus for example or Piero’s Flagellation. In ‘Encounter’ 2019, which was included in the John Moores Painting Prize (2020), a version of Diana and Actaeon is played out behind a selection of non-descript bric-a- brac. Similarly in a ‘Dolls House’ a domestic drama (borrowed from Degas) can be glimpsed in the downstairs room. Sayers likes the potential for ambiguity and multi-layering in painting, the scattering of clues and riddles. A glass case of trapped winged plaster casts in the Louvre provided the models for lurking angels, a foil to the ‘earthbound’ objects. Remains of butterflies and moth carcasses reinforce the ‘Icarus’ theme.