This Is Your Brain On Drugs

In 1995, artist Bryan Lewis Saunders decided he would paint a self-portrait every single day for the rest of his life. He’s up to about 10,000 so far – and more than 50 of them are based on different drug experiences. The results are fascinating, and sometimes beautiful. The Guardian said this:

photo credit: Troy Stains for the Guardian

photo credit: Troy Stains/Guardian

Bryan is an artist. For the past 17 years he’s been sitting in this room – or somewhere like it – drawing a self-portrait or two every day. “I’ve done 8,700,” he says. “Every day is different. Like snowflakes and DNA and fingerprints, no two are the same.”

The thing is, 50 of these 8,700 self-portraits have lately become very famous – celebrated all over the world, with millions of Google hits and a forthcoming exhibition alongside Damien Hirst at the influential Maison Rouge gallery in Paris. They’re the 50 he drew while he was on drugs. Each was created under the influence of a different substance, from marijuana and cocaine through lighter fluid and “bath salts” – “They’re what everybody says are causing people to eat each other’s faces” – to prescription pills with names like Cephalexin and Risperdal. In fact, most of the 50 were prescription pharmaceuticals. “That’s the popular thing today,” Bryan says. He says he hates drugs but feels obliged to try new ones, “just for the drawing”

The exhibition at Paris’ Maison Rouge took place last year. He also recent had an exhibition of his work in Washington, DC, at the Catalyst Projects gallery.

From Alternet:

photo credit: Sean Carnage

photo credit: Sean Carnage

Bryan Lewis Saunders likes to take drugs, both legal and illegal, and then draw pictures of himself. The results are strikingly different from drug to drug, and they vary from beautiful to grotesque, abstract and just plain bizarre.

An artist in his mid-40s from Virginia, now living in Tennessee, Saunders has completed more than 9,930 self-portraits to date (though not all under the influence of a drug).

He said he explored tragedy and social problems for a couple years, then switched to exploring sleep, pain and personality assessment—then drugs. He’s most interested in the “things that are still a mystery to us all,” he said in an email.

In 2012 Saunders told Wired magazine he’d decided to do a self-portrait every day for the rest of his life so that he “could die knowing that I tried to experience as much as possible when I was alive.”

“All day every day, images and feelings of the world come into me and it’s inescapable,” he wrote to Wired. “So I thought if I did a self-portrait every day for the rest of my life, with no rules, the world and I could be more linked to my nervous system.”

On his website, in an explanation of the “Drugs” portraits, Saunders writes:

“After experiencing drastic changes in my environment, I looked for other experiences that might profoundly affect my perception of self.”

He devised an experiment in which every day he took a different drug and drew himself under the influence.

“Within weeks I became lethargic and suffered mild brain damage. I am still conducting this experiment but over greater lapses of time. I only take drugs that are given to me.”

Saunders said in an email that, lately it’s rare that he creates a new “drugs” portrait.

“I don’t like all of these synthetic [drugs] they keep creating,” he said. “It is rare that I’m offered something new to me nowadays.”

From Fastcocreate.com:

“Self-portraiture is biased in its very nature,” says Saunders. “The more informed the bias the more interesting the image is, usually. Memories, thoughts, feelings, beliefs, behaviors are all but impossible to separate from the making of a self-portrait. If I was to attempt to render the same exact image on each different substance in essence denying what the drug means to me personally, the only thing I would be expressing were the degrees in which my motor skills, or visual processes were effected thus entirely undermining the purpose of doing a self-portrait in the first place.”

Here are 51 drug-fuelled paintings from his series Self Portraits Under the Influence of Love and Other Drugs

 

 photo 6da4979a-315b-4a47-a353-8ca94dc837b6.jpg

25I-NBOMe

.

 

 photo f76d5cbe-6b41-41c1-abec-257881f39c40.jpg

Abilify / Xanax / Ativan (dosage unknown in hospital)

.

 

 

Photobucket

90mg Abilify (after 3 months usage 3x maximum dose)

.

1 sm Glass of “real” Absinth (not the fake crap)

.

 

10mg Adderall

.

 

10mg Ambien

.

 

Photobucket

Bath Salts

.

 

15mg Buspar (snorted)

.

 

 

4 Butalbitals (doseage unknown)

.

 

 

Photobucket

Butane Honey Oil

.

 

 

Photobucket

250mg Cephalexin (painted w/ watercolor pencil, water and cephalexin)

.

 

 

1/2 gram Cocaine

.

 

 

Photobucket

Computer Duster (2 squirts)

.

 

 

2 bottles of Cough Syrup

.

 

 

1 “Bump” of Crystalmeth

.

 

 

Photobucket

4mg Dilaudid

.

 

 

1 shot of Dilaudid / 3 shots of Morphine (In the ER with kidney stones)

.

 

 

Photobucket

DMT (during and after)

.

 

 

Photobucket

60mg Geodon

.

 

 

Photobucket

Hash

.

 

 

 photo 3db6eebc-cac3-46f7-b48c-e6d0ae8a619f.jpg

Heroin (Snorted)

.

 

 

Huffing Gas (during and right after)

.

 

 

Huffing Lighter Fluid (during and right after)

.

 

 

7.5mg Hydrocodone / 7.5mg Oxycodone / 3mg Xanax

.

 

 

Photobucket

3mg Klonopin

.

 

 

10mg Lortab

.

 

 

Marijuana (Kine Bud)

.

 

 

Photobucket

G13 Marijuana

.

 

 

Morphine IV (doseage unknown)

.

 

 

Psilocybin Mushrooms (2 caps onset)

.

 

 

Photobucket

2mg Nicotine Gum (after quitting smoking for 2 months)

.

 

 

Nitrous Oxide

.

 

 

Nitrous Oxide / Valium I.V. (doseage unknown in hospital)

.

 

 

PCP

.

 

 

7.5mg Percocet

.

 

 

2 Pot Brownies

.

 

 

Photobucket

1 Glass of Pruno

.

 

 

Marijuana Resin

.

 

 

Photobucket

4mg Risperdol

.

 

 

Ritilin (doseage unknown-snorted)

.

 

 

Salvia Divinorum (right before but mostly right after)

.

 

 

100mg Seroquel

.

 

 

 photo 07d15e21-0a38-4f31-a0d9-5283b5a436c7.jpg

100mg Tramadol

.

 

 

Photobucket

100mg Trazadone

.

 

 

20mg Valium

.

 

 

Valium I.V. (doseage unknown in hospital)

.

 

 

Photobucket

Valium IV, (Albuterol, Saline & Oxygen mixture)

.

 

 

2mg Xanax

.

 

 

50mg Zoloft (after 2 weeks)

.

 

 

Photobucket

10mg Zyprexa (after 2 weeks in hospital)

.

 

 

Ativan / Haloperidol (doseage unknown in hospital)

 

5 comments on “This Is Your Brain On Drugs

  1. Pingback: The Greatest Cultural Movement of Our Time | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  2. Pingback: The Greatest Cultural Movement Of Our Time (Clean Version) | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  3. Pingback: The Greatest Cultural Movement Of Our Time (Clean Version) | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  4. “All day every day, images and feelings of the world come into me and it’s inescapable,” he wrote to Wired. “So I thought if I did a self-portrait every day for the rest of my life, with no rules, the world and I could be more linked to my nervous system.”

    Like

  5. Pingback: 4th of July Drug Guide | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

Share your thoughts with us

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s