Hyper Hyper, do you remember the hit from the German band Scooter? If not, I kindly advise you to check it out. I chose this title because Sara Birns’ painting is equally hyperrealistic, hyper-precise, hyper-accurate as well as hyper crazy cray, and that’s what leaves me in awe.
It’s not a painting for the faint-hearted, it’s a full and rich expression engaged in a close-contact fight with digital photography. The effects of the contemporary medium that we are going accustomed to like unfolding of the figure, character blur, lens-induced disproportion or sharp-as-fuck focus are combined to create a sublime painting.
Her skills and virtuoso become a tool to embark us into fucked-up fairyland where she likes to show off her mastery of animal hair, transparent volumes, optical illusions, seawater and all sorts of fabric. The white « flesh » is the centrepiece of nearly all her works. I have been following her work since 2019, and I love it more and more, as it feels like she’s becoming freer and freer. She’s also a very young artist and – as incredible as it may seem since she was always so skilled – progressing technically at a regular and spectacular pace.
Maybe you have noticed that I haven’t compared her to anyone yet. And I’m not going to because I would like better for you to look at her work, and take the time to savour it as it’s a true gift.
Sara Birns was kind enough to answer my questions:
How do you start your day?
Before I open my eyes fully, I try to remember what I was dreaming about. Then I’ll make tea or coffee and if it’s nice, sit outside and listen to birds etc. until I’m ready to get things started. Then I’ll make a plan for the day and get to work.
If you were to paint one thing over and over what would it be?
Portraits. Faces provide an endless amount of interest for me.
Do you like exhibiting your work? What do you do during the openings?
I LOVE exhibiting my art. I’ve only been able to attend one opening, and it was a blast talking about the body of work.
What is your favourite place to think about a new painting?
I don’t really have a favourite place or time. Ideas will hit me randomly, but I guess the place in my head would be a calm and curious zoned out yet adrenaline-inducing kind of place. A physical place would be somewhere that helps me disconnect from the material surroundings I’m in. Music can help get me there.
What is your relation to past painters, and the history of art?
Great painters of the past have unlocked mind-blowing discoveries that make me want to dig further, picking out what I like and funnelling it through my lens and reference of experiences. We all have great influencers/ teachers, no matter what type of thing you’re growing/ achieving. The old master painters, their lives, and their paths are highly specific to my life journey exploring visual beauty as a visual messenger.
How did you develop this work you’re doing now?
Realised the importance of discovering and following a passion, and ignoring fears that try to hold me back from doing that. Each painting is a new idea that reaches a little further than the last painting.
How did you meet your favourite collector?
I don’t specifically have a favourite collector. I appreciate all who believe in me, my work and my journey. I very much enjoy selling my work, the collectors who collect my work believe in my success and I am so grateful for their support.
Why do we still paint in 2022?
Same reason we have throughout time. We can never be stationary, we are always processing change, expressing our discoveries and questions through the means we have and love.
Where is the Painting heading?
I don’t know. But as painters and anyone creating art for people to soak into their conscience…The world is a malleable place (and it’s very scary at the moment), I hope creatives continue to realize the profound influence we have on it.
Can you tell me 3 colleagues whose work you admire?
From the top of my head: Christian van Minnen, Kajahl Benes, Ian Ingram… but there’s a million more.