Artist Interviews 2022
By Johnny Otto
Are you a musician who paints or a painter who makes music?
I believe that music and painting are artforms that are closely related to the disclosure of spirituality. Lithuanian artist, music composer and painter M.K. Čiurlionis is a perfect example of this and stood out amongst other artists of his era.
Since childhood, I learned about the parallel between music and visual art from studying at M.K. Čiurlionis art school and became acquainted with the work of this artist. Questioning the possibility of living as both a painter and musician simultaneously has never been a problem for me. I think this duality produces opportunities to create art with deeper content.
Music has been a significant part of my life and painting appeared later on after my studies. After the birth of my son Jerome, I was active in both music and painting. After becoming a mother, I have been creating less music but painting has become part of everyday life. It's only recently that I've started revising my guitar technique to blend these two areas. After a short while, I decided to share this creative practice on my Instagram account.
Tell me about the music scene in Lithuania.
Despite the fact that Lithuania is a small country, you can meet a countless amount of creative people here and this is reflected within the music scene. I think our musicians often create music for domestic listeners which rarely reaches wider audiences outside of Lithuania. When theyef have international success, the listeners of our country are sincerely proud of them. In my opinion, the bands worth paying attention to are: Monikaze, In Albedo band, Baranauskas, Evgenya Redko, Sheep Got Vaxed.
I love hearing about an artist's process and materials. Can you tell us a bit about what inspires you, how you get started on apiece and what materials you use to build texture?
My current painting style has largely been influenced by motherhood and having little time for myself. A few years ago, I became interested in natural pigments and discovered that the environment of where I live can give enough input and inspiration. I looked around and found old bricks and building materials that were scattered around the house. I’ve deliberately made a routine of putting myself in the studio to stay creative. Whilst preparing paint powder, I’ll listen to podcasts for artists at the same time. You cannot romanticize the creative process. Some days, a few minutes of work are enough for me – other days produce a few hours of creativity. I do not focus on the end goal because the process is worth more. I am constantly interested in the meaning of chance and how a relatively free approach to technique affects the aesthetics, value and the purpose of work. In painting, freedom of expression is important to me as well as the extent to which coincidence is significant, often dictating the choice of colours and techniques, even the speed of hand gestures to determine the final result in various ways. This encourages me to enjoy the creative process. The result is always surprising because I never consciously aim for the work to look one way or another. The curiosity remains until the end, and the end comes when I see that my further intervention may harm the image. The most interesting materials that I have used thus far are grounded brick, walnut leaves and egg yolk.
Are you currently showing your art or what is coming up for you?
At the time of writing, I am not currently exhibiting any of my works. During July 2022, I was an artist-in-residence at the 11th International Painting Exhibition, held at the Faculty of Arts and Education at Kaunas University. Previously during February-March 2022, I held a solo exhibition at Compensa Concert Hall in Vilnius. When creating new work, I like to imagine myself preparing for some big event or exhibition. Strangely enough, after a while these opportunities seem to happen! My next project is to revive my guitar technique because I want to "play" my paintings through the medium of musical improvisation.
Who inspires you musically? Do you listen to music while you paint?
Anderson Paak, Pharrell Williams, Rodriguez, Diamanda Galas and Suzanne Vega are all artists I admire for their music and personal qualities. A very strange fact - I rarely listen to music while painting! I think this is related to me listening out for my young son whilst I work. I draw inspiration from all things, such as cinema, nature, museums and live performances - I do not solely depend on musicians to directly inspire my music. It's unfortunate and even funny that most of my musical creations came about after some kind of disappointment in relationships. I haven't released new music in two years so maybe I’m just too happy at the moment! Unfortunately, music has no effect on my productivity whilst I paint. Most of the time, creativity comes when the time comes. When I feel that I have to create something instantly because I have something to say.
What is your most memorable experience exhibiting your art?
My first underground studio exhibition. I had the opportunity to paint the walls of my old studio when live bands were rehearsing there. I think this experience gave me a creative impetus, being blessed with the secrets of other musicians’ creations. Soon after, I would hold my first exhibition there. The building itself had a special vibe. On the night of the exhibition, there were musical performances, jam sessions, DJs and dancing. The lighting made you feel relaxed, you could make friends with everyone. Live music connected us all. My mother baked a cake and someone gifted her a pineapple thinking she was me. No event has surpassed this experience in terms of its atmosphere from what I can remember.
Who would you like to collaborate with musically or as a painter?
It would be interesting to release new songs with talented music producers who know the trends and have their own musical style. In regards to painting, I have no ideas for collaboration so far but I'm open to suggestions. One of the more pleasant experiences was making a video clip with cinematographer I. Elmi from Los Angeles. I would be happy to do it again.
Can you paint music?
Unfortunately not, but I know someone who could. Vasily Kandinsky. He had synaesthesia, a rare condition in which one sense, like hearing, concurrently triggers another sense such as sight. Kandinsky once said, "In music, light blue is like a flute, dark blue like a cello, and when still darker, it becomes a wonderful double bass. The deepest and most serene form of blue may be compared to the deep notes of an organ."