Gail Sagman studied Fine Art at St Martins School of Art, London from 1975, under various tutors including John Hoyland and Henry Mundy, and alongside well known contemporaries Anthony Whishaw, Gary Wragg, Gillian Ayres and Jenny Durant. It was here, amongst some of the UK’s leading artists, that Sagman absorbed every nuance of the constructed world around her and was influenced by everything and everyone. To paint in such an environment, alongside others’ creative energy, was to have a lasting affect.
40 + years and 100’s of series later, Sagman’s method remains rooted in the same approach to making a painting. The basis being, that of needing to have and trust, thereby nourishing, a true response to the picture plane. The start arises out of an overwhelming need to utilise certain materials on a chosen surface. From there, there must be a ‘conversation’; a feedback, from the first mark made to the self, as to what to do next. This ‘claim’ made by the work, has to be persistent over any given time. Thus, her belief in The Abstract as the way for her to go, became the basis of her research. Sagman began to develop an eye to see everything around her in abstract terms of line, form, plane, edge, texture, tone and colour.
After St Martins, many of the most eminent British artists of the time were invited by The Whitechapel Gallery to select their favourite painting from anywhere and by anyone in the world. Henry Mundy , selected one of Sagman’s 12’x6’ hangings for the exhibition, which resulted in her becoming overwhelmed with gallery offers and positive reviews, some of which stated that she was to be the artist to launch the ’80’s’.
Over the years, Sagman was offered several shows, and in 1983 was exhibiting at the Riverside Studios, when the Benjamin Rhodes Gallery invited her to open their new space with her work. After several years of working alongside the Gallery, and offers from numerous dealers and galleries, Sagman chose to follow her heart and mind, and opted for a more industrious approach to her career, continuing to construct more and more works, and travelled widely gaining new inspiration, technique and composition ideas.
In the mid. 1980’s, Sagman also became involved with Theatre of the Absurd and went on to produce, direct and design Pablo Picasso’s “Desire Caught By The Tail” at the Riverside Studios. This production had only ever been performed in the 50’s by Camus and Satre in the South of France, but at Riverside, went on to have 3 sell out nights to critical acclaim.
Moreover during the 80’s, over several summers, Sagman attended numerous Symposiums in the then Czechoslovakia, and by the time of “The Velvet Revolution” in 1989, the people that she had met invited her to participate in running an Art Foundation, set up to harness all the creative energy which had been blocked by the Totalitarian system of the previous 40 years. Suddenly, Sagman found herself in the most energetic and adventurous situation imaginable, where each day for several years, something extraordinary happened.
After a show in Moscow in 1992, those in the arts made an assumption that Gail must be on a par with Joseph Boeuys who was exhibiting there at the same time, and as a result, Sagman was accommodated to explore all the work in the basement at The Hermitage in St. Petersburg. In Russia she met many artists who spoke with her about their enthusiasm to voice their love about art, and again Sagman realised that outside of a commercial system, the authenticity of the art remained paramount. In 1992 Sagman was asked to leave some of her works in Moscow, for a another upcoming show with Malevich and Kandinsky.
During the following years, Sagman continued to make paintings and projects in a wide variety of spaces and places, including the India, U.S. , Mexico, Peru, Russia, Czech Republic, Russia, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Cuba.
In the early 2000s, Sagman then set up her new studio, events and rehearsal space, named the Jam Factory, on the Dorset/Devon border. This new space allowed Sagman to continue bringing words, sound, movement, music, costume, and stage set into her repertoire, allowing the further pleasure of literary research.
An important and fulfilling element in Gail’s repertoire, is in designing processes to engage and facilitate others in ‘making’. These projects happen in a wide variety of communities in different countries, and the work produced is so often overwhelming in its strength, that it reflects Sagman’s commitment to the value of art and culture.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Sagman returned to live in London and used this time to create the body of work in this presentation.