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Brett Charles Seiler

Artist 327

Brett Charles Seiler

Identity art


Artist Brett Charles Seiler
Artist Brett Charles Seiler

Brett Charles Seiler (born 1994) is a Zimbabwean artist who currently works and lives in Cape Town South Africa. His conceptual art practise explores complex themes such as love, loss and queer identity.


He explores sexuality in his art practise by exploring the ideas of romantic gestures and sexual interactions and he uses these interactions to dive into historically gay modes of communication and conduct.


Brett Charles Seiler, I Wore Your Shirt Till It Hurt, 2019.
Brett Charles Seiler, I Wore Your Shirt Till It Hurt, 2019.

His work draws on the feelings of longing, distance and nostalgia brought forward from the collective memory of gay rights movements and focusing on the sexual oppression of gay men.


Brett Charles Seiler’s work is often accompanied by performance-based and process works and interventions. His work often ‘queer’ the gallery space by including writings and imagery directly on the walls of the gallery – as a revolt or disobedience.


Brett Charles Seiler. After Simon, 2021
Brett Charles Seiler. After Simon, 2021

Seiler’s work takes the forms of painting and installations. The use of text and language is critical for Seiler, with often poetic, religious and sediments functioning like a confessional.


Brett Charles Seiler. To break the legs of the table, 2021
Brett Charles Seiler. To break the legs of the table, 2021

Seiler when asked what attracts him to use written word as an element in his work responded, “In my graduation show, I wrote over this wall in a very small text. It was a process of getting things out of my head. The text was actually quite direct, but I have become more ambiguous and less straight forward with my text – because I started to feel really lost and anxious about what to say.


They are often words, sentences and statements that are in despair or hopeful. I read a great amount of poetry, even more so that my love of poetry has progressed and now influences my work. People like Frank O’Hara, Eileen Myles and Joe Brainard who all wrote with a sense of immediate nostalgia and loss (which my work does). I have one piece where it reads out ‘You Were So Fucking Beautiful‘, and it directly deals with people I have lost, people I still wish were here, family, friends and lovers I wish were around.



Brett Charles Seiler, Timber. Installation view: Everard Read, Cape Town, 2021.
Brett Charles Seiler, Timber. Installation view: Everard Read, Cape Town, 2021.

So there is this longing I have created, I think it’s quite idealistic and ironic because it feels blurry and like an illusion. A lot to do with the condition of romantic love. I also have a text piece where I repeated ‘Dear Zimbabwe, I Am Sorry I Am Gay’ for three meters – which references the high school punishment of writing lines and furthermore, highlights the anti-LGBT+ laws in Zimbabwe. “


Through Seiler’s work he is recognized for efforts in questioning gay rights and the current facade highlighting punishment, education, media and the institution from an African context .

Brett Charles Seiler, How Many Homosexuals Does It Take, 2020
Brett Charles Seiler, How Many Homosexuals Does It Take, 2020

When asked how art help to cast a light on LGBTQ+ rights issues in Africa and what power it holds Seiler says, “I do a lot of research on LGBT+ issues in Africa because when I first found out that homosexuality in Zimbabwe was illegal (when I was in primary school), it made me scared, guilty and I had a overall feeling of shame.

Brett Charles Seiler, Sorry, 2020
Brett Charles Seiler, Sorry

As I grew up and realised I shouldn’t hold this shame, I wanted to find how and why these laws exist. I did a performance with my dearest friend Luvuyo Equiano Nyawose at the empty space in gallery MOMO (curated by Zenobia Marder) whereby he read out all the laws that protect and discourage the LGBT+ community, he would also explain how all the homophobic laws were old colonial laws that countries have kept and never changed and sadly reinforce them, and as he read them out I would type them out on the typewriter simultaneously, however I wouldn’t be able to keep up and the text would be a bunch of letters that wouldn’t make any sense.


Brett Charles Seiler, Shot!, 2021.
Brett Charles Seiler, Shot!, 2021.

It sort of made sense to me then how queerness is perceived because I don’t think people really talk about it in other parts of Africa, it almost seems ignored. I believe the works about LGBT+ issues would hold more significance in countries where it is illegal which would highlight and bring forward that conversation.


Over here, in South Africa, it feels like the LGBT+ community have very obvious things to change and even though we are ‘protected’ under the constitution, it feels like a facade. I would like to cast a light of LGBT+ issues in Africa, I would like for people to talk about the fact that only a few countries legalise homosexuality. “


Brett Charles Seiler, Hold, 2020
Brett Charles Seiler, Hold, 2020

Seiler’s work is intimate and shares that intimacy with his audience. This is one of the ways his work challenges the preconceived notion that people of different sexualities are ’other’ and ’different’. His work reflects the universal desires to be loved and tactile with loved ones and how wrong laws discriminating against LGBTQ+ laws are.




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