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My paintings explore everyday reality and what lies hidden beneath the surface. This other place is an inner world where mythical and demonic forces interact with time past and the present. 

I have always been interested in the language of painting, trying to push things as far as I can within a particular way of working. Every life is unique and for myself, to live as a painter means experiencing the world in my own way.


I began as a perceptual painter, trying to paint what I saw directly, without preconceptions. I exhibited at the Hayward Gallery, London, in British Painting ’74, where I showed two very different paintings. One, a very large Nude in a gold space and the other, a portrait of my girlfriend, painted from life, but it looked like a computer-scanning of someone’s face. Over the years my work has changed constantly. About twenty-five years ago a big shift occurred and since then my paintings have been exploring the boundary between everyday reality and what lies hidden beneath the surface.


Most people who live in a city with its stresses and strains feel the need to escape. That feeling you get when your mind wanders and although you can’t see it, you feel something about the place you are in. Trying to paint about this involves a very different kind of painting, one which is many layered. My paintings deal with cross-cultural subject matter, Indian mythical images and London street scenes, where time scales change and boundaries between time past and the present melt away and merge into a continuum. Previously, I painted the “skin” of reality, my paintings were about the surface of things. Now, they explore everyday reality and what lies hidden beneath the surface. This other place is an inner world where mythical and demonic forces interact with time past and the present. We are living through difficult times.


I think we are always between realities, in a kind of dream-space. The past, present and perhaps the future locked together in one image. This is the subject of my paintings.


There’s a sense that events are taking place within me, that things and feelings are conflicting within me; that I am watching myself and seeing the struggle of these opposing forces. I am only a watchful eye, but I am also the one who experiences fears, desires, passions etc, which are both myself and not myself. All this has to be painted. It isn’t part of a narrative or anecdote. Images occur through the process of painting, different aspects of a single image grow around it, making a sort of double reality, inducing a clash of opposites so that shapes, colours, forms and space can combine and “play” against each other. Most of my paintings are reworked intensively, some go on for many years.


The main ingredients of my paintings are: time, mortality, life, death and re-birth. These are equated with the temporal nature of painting. Aspects of mortality are painted with the same clarity and intensity as London streets. I want to give a sense of infinity to one brief second, perhaps a glimpse of something seen. In human deaths there are attendant figures at the funeral, so this moment has its attendants to help it along. Creatures which have emerged over time through painting: crows, tigers, dogs, narcissistic worms, gods and demons, all helping to connect the moment to other moments, going backwards and forwards to infinity.


after a painting by Paul Gopal-Chowdhury, with licence


Vapour-trailed in ice against the firmament:

a directive attended by angels.

This one balances the trunk of the T

in the palm of her hand; another swims,

feet paddling ether, above the Word

whose apostrophe juts from his groin.


DON’T eat of the fruit. DON’T go there.

The lion in mayoral garlands, with the dog in a necklet of flowers, tilt a mirror to


the city’s shadows and canyons of glass:

traffic throbs below a white-hot noon.

At every block the warning – DON’T walk.


DON’T covet thy neighbour’s. DON’T tell. DON’T step on the cracks.

DON’T feed the graves.

I said Please. DON’T look back. DON’T kill.


Everything is beyond the mirror’s edge:

the yogi on the mountain in his lotus asana,

forget-me-nots and ground-feeding birds.


DON’T go – as if we could! – without your keys:

there’s no refuge out there, or hiding

from the garden’s unsleeping leaves.


DON’T read this. DON’T even dream of it.

It is all so – DON’T be too sure – lovely, so sempiternal.

The stars are thick as thieves.

Linda Saunders

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