Memoir VI: Consciousness

All images have been provided courtesy of the artist

Some of the content in this memoir is of a sensitive nature

Philosophy is a fantastic tool we have as humans, “Philosophy is man’s expression of curiosity about everything and his attempt to make sense of the world primarily through his intellect.”, Alan Watts, and it is true. Through philosophy, we can talk about a range of ideas and not feel stupid. From consciousness, death, dreams and even the question, “Is my red your red?”. All these topics and more are all valid.

Now let’s look at the concept of time, let’s take 1 second or 2 days, both are measurements of time, but are they to another species?

I remember saying to some friends, “If you ask a gorilla or a fish how they define time, you’ll get a different answer” and I was immediately met with laughter, along with, “Richard has lost the plot”. But I make a valid point, time is an illusion it’s a social construct. Science, mathematics, etc. they all exist to give us an understanding of our reality.

If we look at this new decade, it has only been two months and we have had World War III discussed and the death of Kobe Bryant. Who was one of the many basketball legends that inspired me to play basketball Kobe’s death hammered home that life doesn’t last forever. Now the idea of death and my fear of it, were both covered in Volume I: Memoir X, but what I didn’t talk about was my fear of eternity.

Eternity to me is a very scary concept. We see in Hollywood and TV, the concept of immortality/eternity as this beautiful thing. But think about it for a second, let your mind run free for a bit eternity means never-ending, everlasting and forever.

I believe the reason why the idea of eternity scares me so much, is due to being conscious and my ego. As one day I will cease to exist and that begs the question, after that “day” where will my conscious go. Science tells us that our bodies will decay but it doesn’t tell us about our conscious. Knowing I am mortal along with the concept of eternity are what shakes me to my core and in a nice way gives me the motivation to leave an impactful legacy.

But this idea of where the conscious mind will go and eternity, I want to challenge it. I present you with another quote by Alan Watts, “Try to imagine what it will be like to go to sleep and never wake up… now try to imagine what it was like to wake up having never gone to sleep.”.

When I first heard this quote this year, it immediately dispelled my fear of eternity and it allowed me to gain a different perspective on life.

What I have learnt from the likes of Alan Watts and Rupert Spira, is that life becomes ever so richer once we let go of our egos. Time for a quote from myself, “Death has nothing to reap once the ego has gone.”, Chard Picasso.

For this memoir, I want to delve into the artist Sarita Oseitutu or Sado the Strange. Sarita’s work discusses multiple aspects of her life, from her experiences to her religion.

The moniker “Sado the Strange” came from her name. “Sa” is from Sarita, “D” is from her middle name and “O” is from her last name, Oseitutu. “My artist name is separate from my name: I knew that the person who was painting was not Sarita it was someone else”. As she opened a letter from the bank, she saw her new card and it said, “Miss Sa D Oseitutu”.  At first, she considered the name, “Sad”, but she wanted to incorporate her last name and thus Sado was formed. In terms of “the strange”, originally Sado went by, “Sado the Great” but as she states, “My work wasn’t powerful just yet. I didn’t feel great.”. But after some consideration, she eventually arrived at her known moniker, “Sado the Strange”. “I am quite strange, and I’ve been called strange”. Before the moniker, Sado used, “Ketɔwa Ata”, which is Twi for Little Twin.

In terms of what made Sado get into art, she states that it was her father. “My dad played a role in my creative side.”. Her father enjoyed jazz, from artists such as Frank Sinatra, Etta James and Nat King Cole. It was through jazz her creativity was sparked.

During her time in school, Sado enjoyed Drama and Art. In terms of Art, she did Art GCSE and felt so happy. “I hate exams, but my Art GCSE was the most enjoyable exam I’ve ever done.”. But after GCSE she did not study art. Sado was trying to answer that age-old question, what am I going to do to make money? “I think I kinda tried to separate myself from that. Obviously, the path I had to go down was academic and I knew that at such a young child. Because my mum worked so hard.”. For the young Sado, the idea of having a career in the arts was abstract.

During A-Levels, her creativity was stunted. Sado recalls the times her older sister would try to drag her to galleries, but she would refuse.

Sado went on to study Computer Science, and her time at university would expose her to a variety of individuals. For her first year, she was at Cardiff, and this was one of the worst periods of her life. While at Cardiff she experienced racism from her flatmates. She would be hurled insults such as Ni**er. Her flatmates would turn off the hot water when she was in the shower and would ask her to perform certain acts such as twerking. Throughout her entire ordeal, she smiled through it, “I just wanted to make friends”. For Sado, every day in Cardiff was filled with a barrage of insults, until her final week and she stood up to her flatmates. Although she stood up for herself, her time in Cardiff left her so insecure. Consequently, for her second year, Sado transferred to Manchester, but even there she was met with new challenges. “When I ask the universe or God or whatever. He gives it to me, when I’m not specific he gives me anything.”.

In Untitled {The Clown (Judas)/Playing the Fool} (painted 2019) Sado uses this piece to delve into her experience during her time in Cardiff & Manchester, and her catholic roots.

In this piece, she relates Judas to a clown character or a joker and refers to herself as a clown, “I related myself to the clown as well. Because I feel like I have definitely been a fool in many situations in my life, and in my experiences, I have played that character.”. The piece has a range of colours, and they all play a role in depicting the clown’s mental pain. Across the piece, we can see the phrase, “HAHA”. This is symbolic of her laughing at herself and if we look at the eye, they are looking to the side, almost as if they are ashamed.

However, what is most interesting is the head is crying a body, a golden body. Looking at the body it is feeble, and in my opinion, what we are seeing is the ego or the conscious mind looking at the body. The skin is made from such a rare metal, but the structure is so frail.  The interior meets the exterior, and what it thinks is not what it perceives. This golden body could represent Sado’s self-esteem when she assumed this “joker” character during her time in Cardiff.

Untitled {The Clown (Judas)/Playing the Fool} (painted 2019) [Pastels, Oils and Acrylics on Canvas 60 x 90cm]5th Piece

After her year in Manchester, the following academic year, Sado decided to move back to London to redo her second year. But during her time back in London, Sado decided to drop out of university. When she informed her family about her decision they were confused. Her family responded to her decision by saying she should just finish her degree. But for Sado she had already made up her mind, she felt mentally drained, and that was partially due to her experience at Cardiff and Manchester. “Back then I didn’t know myself, the Cardiff experience really f*cked me up, I hated myself so badly.”.

After dropping out, Sado entered a deep depression. She knew she wanted to do art, but her depression kept her creativity in shackles. “You can’t move when you’re depressed.”. But she eventually overcame this. One thing Sado remembers about her time in university was that she always drew in her sketchbook, wherever she went, she would always have her sketchbook, and it always attracted attention, with people asking her, “Why aren’t you doing art?!”.

Three years before Sado dropped out of university, she bought herself a canvas and after she overcame her depression, she used that same canvas to channel her emotions. It was at this moment she started to love herself.

Sado’s initial work was abstract art. For Sado, art was a fantastic tool for her mental health. Nonetheless, she still felt that her work was lacking a structure and a form. For Sado, her artistic technique is deeply connected to her life, “My work reflects my life and my life reflects my work.”. Sado knew she had to do something; she knew she had to get herself entrenched in this new world for her skills to develop.

It was also during this period that Sado began to do life modelling, and it was an incredible experience as she became more confident about herself and learnt more about art.

As of the release of this memoir, Sado still life models, and is grateful to all the artists she has encountered. “They really feed my artistry, and they really feed my drive and motivation to do better, and to continue to paint and to continue to create, and they are really interested in my work.”.

Through meeting different artists her artistic style has evolved, and she has picked up many different styles and techniques.

Untitled {Jesus In Awkward Silence} (completed 2019) is a good example of Sado’s artistic journey. The piece was started in 2017 and evolved. Sado stated that the background was originally blue and black.

Once the background was completed. The next stage was the figure’s face, in particular, its eyes, “Once I get the eyes done, everything just falls into place.”. Sado then added various layers of colour to the piece, along with other features such as hair and skin. When it comes to painting skin, she does not use traditional skin tone colours, she prefers to use a variety of colours, “When I life modelled, I realised no one ever mentions that my skin colour is brown, they always talk about so many different colours and from that I have never seen my skin colour as something just brown, it has always been different colours.”.

With regards to the black speech bubble, originally it had “Hey” written inside, but Sado decided to keep the speech bubble blank. She stated during that time she did not know how to say “hey”, and she was more of an observer than a speaker.

If we focus on the part of the body which is in the black region, we can see that the figure is pregnant. Sado stated in our interview that Untitled {Jesus In Awkward Silence} delves into her pregnancy. During this period Sado was pregnant and chose to have an abortion, and it left her in a very dark place. Sado chose to not receive any counselling after the abortion was completed. After her decision, Sado entered a cycle of panic attacks. Looking at the entire figure, the lower half of the body is in a black background and the head is in a white background. By having this juxtaposition of colour, and the head and body connected by an elongated neck are symbolic of Sado’s mind being out of sync with her body during that period.

Moreover, if we look at the left hand, it has a hole and Sado states that this refers to Christ’s crucifixion and for her, the sacrifice she chose was her child, “I made a sacrifice and that child was it.”. For Sado, pieces such as this are a self-reflection and an important tool to open the discussion for subjects such as this, “I think it is important to talk about, I don’t think it is something that should be hidden. (..). I think people should understand what it is like and the aftereffects.”.

Untitled {Jesus In Awkward Silence} (painted 2019) [Oils and Acrylics on Canvas 60 x 90cm]3rd Piece

In Sado’s figurative pieces the faces are always bold. Sado states that the faces have an element of realism and an element of alienness to them. For Sado, incorporating realism is the basis of her technique, “I want some aspect of technique because I think technique is very important when it comes to any creativity. Technique is the foundation. (…). I really need that grounding or else I will go crazy.”.

As we have seen in Untitled {Jesus In Awkward Silence} and Untitled {The Clown (Judas)/Playing the Fool}, one of the themes that appear in Sado’s work is religion. Raised as a Catholic, Sado states that her figurative pieces always delves into her Catholicism.

As of the release of this memoir, Sado has done pieces on Adam and Eve, The Garden of Eden and Saints. “I am channelling society’s energy, painting the foundation of humanity through the catholic religion. (…) The colours I use have a spirituality aspect and the designs I use have the catholic aspect.”.

I asked Sado who else influenced her to pursue art, and she said her art teacher in secondary school, Mrs Gare, “she was an incredible teacher. (…). She understood the struggle that was going to happen.”.

To Sado, Mrs Gare was someone who knew her students well, she was honest, if she saw a piece that did not represent the essence of her students, she would be vocal. “She hated one of my pieces I submitted for GCSE, she said, “This isn’t you and I can tell. Sarita, you have so much to give.”.

Mrs Gare unfortunately got fired from Sado’s secondary school. After hearing the news Sado never forgot Mrs Gare and dreamed of seeing her again. The two eventually encountered each other, while life modelling at a private school, she saw Mrs Gare teaching the class and this brought so much joy to Sado.

I also asked Sado the question, “When did you think you were an artist?” Her response was the following, “I think I always knew ever since I was young. I didn’t know the term artist too much, I just knew there was something there. But the title was given to me by others.”. In terms of her mindset now, Sado also states, “I am in and out of being an artist, sometimes I feel like an artist and sometimes I don’t.”.

In terms of her art, Sado describes it as a fusion of everything, a “melting pot”. For Sado, she shares a love-hate relationship with her work, she considers the work separate from herself. “I find it mean to say this, but they have become their own identity. (…). They have their own resolve; they have their own speech.”.

In terms of artists who have impacted her, Sado states, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Abe Odedina and Mark Rothko. Sado sees Basquiat as a heavy influence on her nickname and personality. With regards to Abe Odedina, Sado loves the Nigerian artist because his pieces tell a story. “I discover so much from his work. He has painted black people, male and female in different characters and moods. Every narrative he has painted. So many roles, so well painted and so skilled, it’s very simple but includes so much.”. Finally, when it comes to Mark Rothko, Sado sees his influence on par with Basquiat. Sado adores Rothko’s work due to his pieces being huge, dark in nature and abstract.

When it comes to Sado’s message regarding her art, she states the following, “I don’t really have any message (…). Well, maybe I don’t know the message just yet.”. For Sado, her expressive pieces have messages as seen in Untitled {Mixed Signals} (painted 2017), Untitled {Okay} (painted 2018) and Untitled {Maybe Faith} (painted 2019). But in terms of her figurative pieces, Sado states they do not have an intricate or complex meaning.

The piece Untitled {Mixed Signals} is based on communication. Sado states, “I’m not really good at communicating”. If we look at this piece, it resembles a violent storm. It’s sporadic, from both the oils and acrylics. The piece represents thought, the idea of overthinking and the chaos that comes from it. If we look at certain parts of the piece we can see stab marks. Sado said in our interview, “I felt the need to hurt the piece, I needed to hurt it because it was an insecurity and I needed to hurt it so badly”. Even the use of colours and how they are arranged on the canvas are interesting too. We see a lilac background, with faint traces of mustard yellow, black and white. I asked Sado why the use of these colours. Starting with lilac, the colour represents a higher level of awareness and clarity. Next black, which represents her being reluctant with her emotions and keeping everything inside, “The black in this piece represents a suction, it sucks away life.”. Lastly white, Sado states that it represents dirt. “I don’t think white can ever be clean, because it gets dirty so easily”. In addition to that, the colour represents her clouded thoughts, her lack of communication and honesty with other people. “Honesty is so important, I feel like honesty is such a great release for the mind and any mental trauma you have. Honesty helps with that.”. At the time of this piece, Sado was afraid to be honest. However today, Sado does not relate to this piece anymore.

Untitled {Mixed Signals} (painted 2017) [Oils and Acrylics on Canvas 60 x 90cm]1st Piece

The next piece is Untitled {Okay}, Sado states this piece refers to a point in her life where she needed hope but was in a hopeless situation. The artist was in a romantic situation, but things did not work out. She needed something to communicate her emotions and it was through this piece she did so. The piece started off as a black background, “A lot of my expressive backgrounds start off with dark colours. Because I feel as if my foundation is quite dark.”. But over time she began to add more colours. Sado also states the technique used reflected her emotions at the time, “The movement was a release, (…) it wasn’t fun, it was painful trying to get it out”. The colours used in this piece are turquoise, red and yellow. Just like her other pieces, each colour has a meaning, “I love colours and the emotional meanings that come with it. Whenever I use a colour, I always do some research”. The red represents her anger at the time, the turquoise represents serenity and is used to counteract the emotion produced by the red. Finally, the yellow represents joy, but notice it is very faint, Sado states, “I’ve realised, happiness doesn’t last long. The yellow it is so faint, but it still pops.”. In terms of the word, “OKAY”, Sado states that after adding the colours, she left the piece for a couple of weeks and after she had reflected on her emotions and achieved clarity, the word, “Okay” arrived. The word is a reminder to Sado to relax and take time when it comes to life.

Untitled {Okay} (painted 2018) [Oils and Acrylics on Canvas 90 x 60cm]4th Piece

The final piece of this memoir is Untitled {Maybe Faith} and for Sado, she considers this as her breakthrough piece. “My work always starts off different compared to where it ends.”. With this piece, Sado was trying to recreate her acid trip. During her acid trip, she saw a variety of patterns and this left her in a state of awe. Even though she was inspired, she wanted the creation of the piece to be natural, “I don’t like to force work and if it’s not working, I don’t want to try either.”. The piece is all about Sado finding balance, the piece is her overcoming her insecurities, pain and anxiety. She describes the creation of this piece as fun, and recalls herself dancing around, and splashing the white paint over the black background. This was the first piece that Sado used this technique and has gone on to use this in subsequent pieces. When I first encountered this piece, it reminded me of Jackson Pollock. When I asked her if she was inspired by the late artist, she said at this point she had never encountered his work.

In terms of the choice of colours, black and white, they are deliberate, they balance each other. Sado also states that this piece allowed her to overcome her fear of using the colour black. During that period, Sado refused to use certain colours such as black due to their religious connotations, “We base religion on the devil, more than God. Because the devil is so taught in the Catholic religion, the darkness is so heavily taught, and this scares me.”. For Sado, she found it very difficult to separate herself from her religion.

Moreover, if we focus on the characters, “信仰”, it translates to “faith” or “Hope” (Romaji: Shinkou /Hiragana:しんこう). “Hope to me is very sporadic, there is that darkness, and there is that hope. And then there is getting past that hope and making that hope into reality.”. The addition of these characters was deliberate. Before their addition, similar to Untitled {Okay}, Sado felt the piece was incomplete, “I left the piece, but I knew something needed to be written.”, she did not want the meaning to be too obvious to the viewer or something in English, as it would be cliché. So, she chose Japanese Characters, as it felt within the tone of the piece and felt including the characters would give the piece more life and more meaning. All in all, the piece is sporadic in nature, but it is this nature that offers Sado a cathartic release.

Untitled {Okay} (painted 2018) [Oils and Acrylics on Canvas 90 x 60cm]2nd Piece

In terms of what to expect from Sado this year, in 2020. Sado sees this year jam-packed with opportunities, “2020 I am going to work hard towards my goals”. Sado will be exhibiting her work in Pimlico, she also has a solo exhibition regarding her religious pieces. To add to that, she plans to sell her expressive pieces, along with some prints of her other work. Sado also has an upcoming exhibition in Amsterdam, with the theme being, taboo. Lastly, Sado plans to give certain pieces to certain musicians; such as Willow Smith, Solange and Frank Ocean, Sado is already in talks with Willow Smith. For Sado, she believes her art can have such an impact in the music industry, “There is something I need to do in that industry and there is a message I need to spread, and I think my art can speak volumes.”.

As a whole, I wanted to use this memoir to explore the idea of consciousness, and I wanted an artist that would allow me to really think about all the aspects of my life, from my relationship with people to my relationship with religion, and Sarita was perfect.

Sarita found her passion for art at her lowest point. Sarita’s story is of a woman who learnt how to love herself and embrace that.

To see more of Sarita’s work follow her on Instagram @sado.thestrange

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