Interviewed by Eglė Komkaitė for Kauno laikas in 1994
Elena Balsiukaitė-Brazdžiūnienė was born in 1958 in Kaunas, graduated from Vilnius Art Academy (former Vilnius Art Institute) where she studied painting. Now she is teaching at Kaunas Art School for Children. She is showing her works at art exhibitions since 1988. The first personal show was held at Kaunas Artists‘ House in the spring of 1990, the second one – now at Galerija AL. Four years later?
The Architects’ House at 22 Vilniaus Street in Kaunas housed Galerija AL, the first private art gallery in post-Soviet Lithuania, in 1989-1998.
Yes, sometimes I myself forget that Kazimieras was born and there was no consistent work. There were, however, many showings of my works with the group Keturios (The Four) as well as exhibitions abroad. I have conceived the personal exhibition earlier: the time has come to take a look at my works because there are already completely different pictures that are haunting me.
At the exhibition opening photographer Gintautas Stulgaitis said: „It is nice to see Ventė in the pictures by friends”.
Yes, the first bright work (the one with the kite) has been painted there. The bright spring sunshine and the meadow in Ventė yellow with dandelions – just buzzing colours. I have given up on dimmed still-lives and chamber pictures because a new space has opened up – I was painting outdoors. I forgot all the things from the Institute. I freed myself from the twilight; there appeared the open colour that meant the space and the light, the object and the plain. All things have come from within because one is choosing the means that will not constrain the temperament, that it is you who is control of the technique and not the other way around.
Colour is the most important? What’s about the drawing? After all, your pictures are inhabited by different persons?
Abstractions have not come to the maturation yet, but it would be interesting to try it. The drawing is simplified because of colour. I do not split drawing and colour up. I am drawing using colour because if the drawing is becoming more complex the colour disappears. Colour tension is different, sometimes very close to the point, beyond which it does not taste very good, as rubbing a piece of glass against a piece of glass. I am not aiming at completeness. A picture has got to be alive, a connection with the viewer has to be established.
Can it be that the viewer stops at your works due to their living quality, powerful outwards energy?
You cannot achieve it in an artificial way. You come and work, it becomes like an action. You put paint on, you remove it. I am not painting pictures that have been conceived earlier, that have matured. The powerful outwards going energy, the living quality of a picture – it is what I am going after; that a painting is not just a pretty picture or image, a mat or a postcard, a mere decoration. There has got to be life but it has to be tamed. I stand by my works, in which everything is not revealed, in which there can be silence because the viewer needs to feel that something is about to happen.
Well, what’s about your graphic prints?
It’s a pleasure. It’s a relaxation after painting. It is harder to paint, as if you were pulling your guts out. I have started with monotypes, and now there are colour lino-prints in the exhibition. Lino is a soft material but I do not like using the traditional cutter. I am using a simple nail and tear the surface with it. In this way a print becomes livelier, closer to a drawing, more colour combinations become possible. It might be it is uninteresting for graphic artists but for me it is a delight to work this way.
“The Night Conversation”, “The Toy”, “The Sweeping Angel” are the titles of your most recent works. Are they plots of the mundane motifs?
Yes, they are. And not in these works only. The musician (Another Music) I meet every day on my way to the studio and on the way back home. He sits there and plays. For some he is a weirdo, for others he is utterly unimportant. Each of us has noticed the persons-signs whom we see daily for many years and who contribute to the city’s atmosphere. I am not thinking about it when I am painting, I am relying on a feeling. Different music is being born because each of us is playing for oneself. The red wall (The Game near the Red Wall) is just in front of my windows. It is a play with the shadow. When you are painting, the game becomes dangerous: the shadow grows as large as the wall, as a huge hole and takes a life of its own while the child remains alone, and it is not clear how it all can end. The picture is alive but you must get it under control. The Night Conversation is from our time spent together. Each has spent the entire night talking with someone. This is one of the sadder works in the exhibition. The conversations I am trying to remember.
You have mentioned that new works are haunting you….
This exhibition consists of fragments, impressions, premonitions. The works differ from one another by their structure, colour. Maybe I will have a chance to work consistently, create more concise works, examine a more solid artistic problem, perhaps one particular topic.
You live life, and it is necessary to forget everything in order to avoid a simple retelling. Everything has to sink and only the most essential things have got to remain. There is the sweeping angel, and he is sweeping everything off to make space for things told in a simpler way whilst discarding events to the scrap-heap. I wanted to keep only the black and the yellow but I had not managed to sweep everything away; perhaps later I would arrive at the colour-sign, to laconicism.