Over the course of the year, being confined indoors for a prolonged period has constrained us to cope with unexpected yet rapid change. The difficulty of forced isolation is the ground from which we step into a contemplative intimacy into the unknown. Our senses become heightened, we become hyperaware of our surroundings, and we begin to reimagine others and ourselves.
Brent Sabas has always been intimately familiar with narratives beneath what we immediately see. Finding ways of respite, the solo exhibition Brighter Corners captures Sabas’ visual silver linings, in the form of his detailed animal/human hybrids. Working in the advertising and creative industry for more than a decade, Sabas’ works are infused with various references and symbolisms from contemporary and pop culture, to highlighting the simplest yet compelling things within our proximity. In “Bittersweet”, we see an illustration of the singer Lianne La Havas as a (song) bird, clad in a fiery orange frock, pairing her in a lush, saturated environment. “Good Juju”, interprets an iconic 2020 portrait of drag performer Jujubee, “The Rise of Boy Love” reflects the new and progressive media representation from the LGBTQ+ community. Meanwhile, “The Visitor” is the artist’s visual ode to a bird, regularly perching on top of a tree across his studio window—a privilege for the city-dwelling folk.
Consistently honing his creative practice from being a published artist for children’s books, editorial illustrations from Preview, Mega, and Esquire, and movie and TV poster designs, we see Sabas’ ever-evolving affinity and relationship to color. Clearly present in this exhibition, the artist has gleaned inspiration from vibrant, saccharine palettes, despite making art during opposite conditions. Whether serving as catharsis, or stimulating the senses, Brighter Corners gives refuge, pays profound and spirited attention to things that we might have missed.