Photographer Karolis Žukas
Hey, we have been following you for quite a while now. Just a few years ago we also presented your exhibition together. The first question is probably related with your environment – you mostly lived and studied in small cities and probably know that feeling, when most of people are very well known to each other there. How could you comment that? Do you think that the environment of a big and a small city has some influence on artist?
Almost everything has some influence but is it meaningful and strongly noticeable, I don’t think so. I was born, studied and now live in different cities, towns. But I make my nest as I want to. I think that if we would change not the size of the city, but, for example, if you would live in a private property or in a completely different environment, maybe in a desert, it would have more influence on you. Then, surrounding objects would change and something new would be born.
You create wonderful graphic pieces. However, we know that you also like to experiment. Can you tell us how you chose graphics and why is it close to you?
It’s an easy choice. I did not think about it, I chose. It’s something similar to when you are happy about the first snow in the winter and you run outside to lick icicles. You can’t tell why you are doing that, can you? Some sort of impulse, something from the inside is pushing you. It’s interesting to try out or master graphics’ techniques and you also expand your possibilities. Graphics’ language convinces me and is fitting to me. However, I’m not settled, I sometimes paint, carve and sew a bit. The last we met, I talked that I like Lithuanian climate (there’s spring after winter then summer and so on). I like it because snow is not enough, you also want to splash around in puddles… The same circle is in art, one day you are painting and the other you’re drawing…
If you had to describe yourself and you art in two sentences, what would they be?
It’s difficult to describe myself in words… Fish, clouds, wings, ropes… and always a human being or at least a half of it.
Tell us about inspiration, where do you get it from, where do the themes that you work with come from?
Usually from observation and silence, there is more space for thinking in silence and thinking comes from all noticed actions, feelings, things, stories, animals, people and states of personality.
Lithuania is sort of a part of the Eastern Europe but we have a lot of influence from the West. How do you think we are different, if we are different at all? What is your opinion about the clash of the East and the West, when living in such a small country?
In my opinion, our country absorbs those influences, general tendencies from West and East in. There is sort of no authenticity left. Everything entwines. A mix of these two, of a dozen to be more precise, influences. Though, we live in a small country, when geographical walls are down, we try to see as much as we can, to know and to subconsciously repeat it. If we really wanted to find authenticity, we could find it in some artists’ creation. And that authenticity – it’s a particular national identity. A search for decorativeness and ornament. And if it’s important to understand what is so exceptional in Lithuanian art, it’s national, folk art.
Which trends do you see in contemporary graphics? Are there trends that you don’t like?
As generally in all contemporary creation, the pole position belongs to conception and graphics is not an exception here. Young artists like the simplicity of digital print and keep their hands clean. They take up etching and dry needle technique more rarely. Digital print dominates. And if they do create with older tools, the soul techniques are rarely seen. Mixed techniques, experimental forms are popular.
I don’t use digital graphics too much. I always use a pencil as well. And I like the mixing of techniques and the resulting “mash”. It’s various, interesting and attractive with its surface, relief alone… You can feel a lot more vibrant experiences just by touching such works.
What graphics’ technique is the closest to you? How do you evaluate techniques, are there any that you don’t like?
I used to think that linen carving is a useless technique but Tadas Gindrėnas carves and he proved me wrong. I think that there are no bad means, just a question, how are you going to control them. I am not bound to techniques. I already mentioned that accidental things and the use of a couple of techniques are interesting. Though, in the meantime I work with silk – screen technique quite a lot. It reminds me of a puzzle, when you press on separate layers. You can easily bind a drawing and a photograph, choose any color. I just don’t like too much printing then you at least change the color or don’t print something, so that you would ferment a work that looks the same.
Tell us about your plans. What would you like to do in the upcoming years?
To learn how to play the harmonica or the Jew’s – harp. So that I could carry an instrument around in my pocket and pull in out and play at any time.
I also worked as an artist in one theatre. I learned new things and made a theatre doll. It would be interesting to learn more how to control, make an expression with a doll. Continue my work with graphics… finish the works that I began and to begin new ones. I won’t tell more specific plans because they can change a lot in the work process or all together some better or more spontaneous ideas could push current plans away.
If this moment your voice could reach an immense amount of people, what sort of person would you like to call out to realize your ideas?
Ryan McGinley comes to mind because he uses states and body of the same person. And he manages to present it very naturally and easily (though, I never thought about this possibility earlier). I communicate with young artists that are near. With a couple of directors, actors, there are plans to combine our thoughts and works. We just need to find time and maybe funds. It’s nice to work with someone that you know. You know what and how they work, how to complement each other.