An Artist’s Self-Portraits While On Various Drugs

Performance artist/poet Bryan Lewis Saunders has been drawing self-portraits every day since 1995. He’s a particular looking man — balding, bespectacled, bearded, with a chipped, fragmented forehead, a long scaly body of a snake, and pink liquid undulating flesh. Wait, no, that’s him on crystal meth, Adderall, and two bottles of cough syrup. “I devised another experiment where everyday I took a different drug and drew myself under the influence,” he explains. Each self-portrait reveals a particular toll the chemicals are taking on his motor skills, the aesthetic detours and embellishments they inspire, and a bit, the actual experience of each drug. “Within weeks I became lethargic and suffered mild brain damage,” he says. “I am still conducting this experiment but over greater lapses of time. I only take drugs that are given to me.” Art is hard, kids. Don’t try this one at home.

Psilocybin mushrooms (2 caps onset). Image by Bryan Lewis Saunders