Scientific achievements, as well as modern technology and innovations change not only people‘s daily lives, habits and lifestyles. The technological revolution is vigorously penetrating art and even such a conservative (as it would seem) field as painting.
Classic oil painting and modern reality-altering technologies make a combination, which both surprises and raises internal conflict. How is it possible that the realm of painting, based on intuition and subconscious reflections, can combine both the creative freedom of the artist and its vitality with pre-programmed media, making radical changes in the understanding of reality?
The Lithuanian artist Irma Leščinskaitė, exhibiting her works at the permanent exposition of New York‘s Agora Gallery, often receives similar questions.
She introduces several of her innovative paintings for the visitors of the Lithuanian pavilion at the World EXPO 2017.*
For centuries artists could do fine with only canvas, brushes and paint to produce pieces of art, exciting people‘s hearts for hundreds of years. Your works are permeated with lasers, sounds, 3D and all kinds of different technological vibrations. What are all these things doing in your paintings?
These very same measures have been enough both during various epochs with changing painting styles and today, but, in order to convey information, reflection and references to culture, we need to focus on thinking and inner logics. An abstract painting does not have an “object”. It was replaced by such concept as “shapeless structures”. This means that the “object” of a contemporary piece of art is the field of the pure interactions of the painting’s post-modern arrangement of elements. Painting is so powerful, vital and wide that it can cover anything: philosophy, influence of inspiring figures, their thoughts and works, culture, nature or thinking in structures, thus enabling such charming inclusions, like a realistic miniature “coming alive” as an animation on a tablet screen using augmented reality technology. Being solid, monumental and multi-layered in terms of information, painting as a field of art can communicate with the sound structures of video and musical compositions, providing the entire piece with speed and dynamics, without losing its identity.
Why does this capture audiences? What do they find in your paintings that they wouldn‘t get, e.g. from Édouard Manet‘s Luncheon on the Grass?
The understanding of visual experiences while looking at these pieces is individual. Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass captures the audience’s eyes with bright light and dark contrasts and open gaze, focusing right on the figure sitting in the foreground. My paintings don’t carry any open or direct emotions, which quickly capture the viewer’s thought on the plane, but are rather predominated by plastic moderation, focusing on a stable composition of structures, which remains almost unnoticed, but as if “hanging in the air”. The painting unfolds upon looking at it and reflection.
Do you think that the mysterious smile of Leonardo da Vinci‘s Mona Lisa La Gioconda won‘t capture the people developing future energy and creating future art? Will they be able to use the modern technology to find the key to that mystery and take away its romantic aura?
I think that the structure or “code” of the human mind doesn’t change as fast as the rapidly changing pace of the modern technology. The human factor is there to stay. Technology can help us reveal the layers of paint, yet the mysterious smile will remain something intangible, uncapturable ‒ something that you can only feel with human emotions.
You work as a junior researcher at the Health Research and Innovation Centre of Klaipėda University and participate in a project, the purpose of which is to research, how the process of art influences psychological relaxation. Why do you raise such questions? What results have you already achieved?
The research focuses on the importance of the creative process and art on personal psychological relaxation, socialisation factors, psychosocial integration, as well as relieving stress and tension. Thus the influence of art is projected as a therapeutic process. We research the influence of different ways of artistic education on personal creative expression and socialisation. The task is to test the effectiveness of individual methods of artistic therapy (dot art, colour blending, etc.) in practice, in order to achieve better results in psychological integration and rehabilitation. We are currently developing research methodology. This field is also related to the topic of my doctoral thesis.
Irma, please take a moment and become a guide for the exhibition‘s visitors, seeking to explore the layers and depths of your paintings. What stories could they find there?
The EXPO 2017 in Astana will feature three cycles of my works. I would like to highlight the special atmosphere and the general creative results, achieved in cooperation together with very talented artists ‒ the architects Gerda Antanaitytė and Andrius Laurinaitis, as well as composer Linas Rimša.
First exposition: laser technology – painting. Laser technology – Brolis Semiconductors laser technology company, painting – Irma Leščinskaitė.
The exposition features a laser photo of the picture, taken by Brolis Semiconductors laser technology company. Using a short-medium wave infrared camera and laser technology enabled to capture the depth of the painting, showing all stages of its creation, as well as the order of applying layers of paint, invisible to the naked eye. Viewers get an opportunity to see the sequence of the creative process, from the first stage to the final result. The exhibition will feature both types of the painting: the painting itself and the photo, taken using laser technology. The viewers will be able to not only enjoy the final piece, but also explore the depths of the compositional layers.
Second exposition: painting – Irma Leščinskaitė, software with augmented reality technology – architects Gerda Antanaitytė and Andrius Laurinaitis.
A realistic miniature, painted on a large format painting opens opportunities for exhibiting it using augmented reality technology. This enables to supplement the painting with the dimension of interactive design. The miniatures, painted using oil painting technique and technology “come to life” on a tablet and thus enable to expand the historical and current reality, represented in the paintings. The development of the digitalised video-augmented reality involves using a composition of twenty individual miniatures. The videos tell the story of how the historical figure relates with the past and the present historical context. The small realistic miniature is like a lively inclusion and the focus point of movement in the art of painting, which is often monumental, opening numerous textures and depths. The animation is supplemented with audio elements – the soundtrack for the first miniature story was recorded in a London train, the second – while going through a jungle in Sri Lanka, not far from the railway.
Third exposition: painting, mixed media video, musical composition. Painting – Irma Leščinskaitė, musical composition – Linas Rimša.
During the exposition a part of the painting will act as a screen for a projection of a drawing-tattoo coming to life. Using the video projection, the drawings on fragments of frescoes (as if chandeliers) will move on a certain part of the coloured painting, creating groups of drawing fragments in lively movement. The video projection and the music of Linas Rimša are completely synchronised, their interaction is based on certain common compositional structures in time (fractals, series of notes and video elements, etc.). The sound enables to reveal the plastic layers of the painting and open visual fields. In the installation the sound becomes not so much a musical, but rather an architectural, physical and often almost symbolic unit.
* Irma Leščinskaitė graduated from Vilnius Academy of Arts with a degree in painting and postgraduate studies in art, as well as attended Nancy Spero’s and Leon Golub’s painting courses. She is a representative of Agora Galery in New York, USA. She has hosted 25 personal exhibitions, as well as participated at 117 group exhibitions, art projects and symposiums in Europe. Currently she’s studying for a doctoral degree in Social Science and is a junior researcher at the Health Research and Innovation Centre of Klaipėda University. Her fields of interest include the socio-cultural context of art and connections of modern technology in art. She has also been teaching and engaged in creative work for more than twenty years.