Simonas Kuliešis

Interviewed by Raimonda Tamulevičiūtė

Photographed by Julija Rūkas

Translated by Kristina Žeimytė

Why don’t you tell a little bit about your main creative themes? How the old city maps are integrated in your work? For what specific reasons have you chosen to work with the old XVI-XVII century’s maps, and not the current ones?

In my creation I analyse relations between nature and city, urbanised city’s landscape and its structures. I started to work with one of city’s structures – bird’s eye motif maps about 7 years ago. In the Netherlands, I discovered an album with antique maps (to XVII min-century). Page by page maps turned out to be looking authentic and interesting, also I realised at a time people had not taken off to a bird’s eye, but created the maps, as if they had been. This non-existing view intrigued me. Since then I started to look for the different cities and countries maps and use map’s structure to design the paintings. During that time, I used city’s titles to name my paintings, for example, Rotterdam’s city canvas, Utrecht’s city canvas etc. I perceive some kind of association or symbols, which emerges from “bird’s eye” drawn map; it reveals unseen city’s symbol or abstract shape, which inspired me. Later on, my creativity transformed more to city and nature ratio’s search. Then the questions about modern look emerged to me, about how people understand painting and the art, moreover the world around us in advertising and design century. I am thinking about how much are we able to see nature and reality. The use of GPS submerges people to the screen. While you go through the city and look at GPS, what do you see? Nature, architecture or GPS? I am interested in the relationship between the modern technologies and the environment, how are they interacting and what kind of view can come to the fore from it. About four years ago, I had personalized show, which went through modern looks problematic. I continuously develop this theme analysis, which in the painting is relevant even until now. Painters have always used the landscape; many have already forgotten about it, they use direct work very rarely. In my creativity of modern’s landscape, the urbanistic glance comes out; even the social aspects and people interplay occurs. Currently I continue further examination on this topic, but I emphasize more in social discourse, which I call “Social Bricks Landscape”.

One of your creative themes is urbanistic city’s landscape. How cities culture affects your painting? 

I grew up in the city, for this reason, it is not historically far-off from me. The city of Vilnius has the old architecture and because I lived in the old town, I experienced civic culture. In my creativity, the urbanistic motive or, as I say, secondary product from the nature, is a design or an advertisement,  whichever is being reflected through colour-code, which is synthesized, bright, penetrating and contrasting. All of these colours no-where to be found in nature, unless, during the specific daytime: during sunset or sunrise periods, when contrasting colours are facing each other. This colour comes from the city’s elements, to my creations. All of that in the paintings are creating some kind of flickering or hum. The hum motive is also used in my structures contrast. We used to study the scenery very calmly, when, as soon as some kind of, even little, disturbance appears, it gives an experience, which we often see in the city. I would like to add, that my creativity is not only affected namely for the city of Vilnius, I can create no matter where, but still; Vilnius has the best city and nature balance.


You had mentioned, painting’s contextualization and it’s exposure technique is very substantial for you. Is it one of the main conditions in the contemporary art context?

Speaking of painting place in modern art context, I think, the canvas may be self-made. My creations can be placed everywhere, in every environment, either gallery or other expanse. In the different environments the paintings get various shapes. For example, white walls always cleans up the surroundings, it lets the painting to ring out, but if it is self-made, it can easily play off in urbanistic environment and remain itself. I take interest in different experience capture, various seeing and observing search for angles, the idea of an open art, when viewer search for the art oneself. I become delighted in discovery and learning moments, when the viewer feel it. It is important for me that my art educates people. I had noticed, that people hardly orients in the city; for this reason, I think, digital technologies do almost everything for people, they don’t need to think or rely on intuition. People can’t navigate separately, they rely on GPS, even though it often mislead. I would love to see, how people begin to learn coordinates and start to navigate themselves in the city. Accordingly, we would see objects, we did not see before. When we observe our environment, we begin to interpret, different environment and it’s angle, generates context. My art pieces are also constructed during the experience gathering in city. During my solo show in 2013 “Fixed Landscape” my paintings were displayed without titles; just because, I didn’t want people link to the title and the landscape they look at, the view need to speak for itself, not the other way around, and bring the question: “Why we talk about modern glance?”. The viewer begins to think oneself. What I experienced while painting, already happened, all I want is for experience to continue.

What other forms of expression do you apply in your creativity?

In my creativity, I use technology language, still through painting and painting vision. I always create with a painter glance; however, sometimes, I need different expression measures. Last time in Kaunas “Kabinetas” I exhibited the liquid glass object. During the creation of it, liquid glass was mixed with dye, so in the middle of it, painting was operated. For example, creating a movie, I shoot the paintings; in work, which is made in other techniques, I always leave pictorial flavouring.


What do you think, what tendency, analysed subjects emerges in up-to-date pictorial art? What sort of ratio painting and art has with new technologies?

I could accentuate few aspects about art field, in general, not only about painting. Generally, in the art, time is thrilling; stagnation and the art of self-no-designation are appreciable. We can look at it as two-sided chaos time or like the time ahead of discovery. Personally, I would appreciate it as time ahead of discovery. For me, as an artist, it is relevant: to find new trend, direction, glance. Exactly that I see in landscape. At this point in time, as a developer, I perceive superb space, in which I can improve and seek for the new creations with nature.

While discussing modern painting, one exhibition must be talked through; it was in Austria, later, in France, called “painting.2”. The title itself reveals computerized technologies influence. Both in painting and in other arts, there is a big image overload and its over-usage. In “painting.2” display, it was specially highlighted. We live in this day of age, when we manage to show a lot of stuff with the new technologies help and manage to speak out through image. Therefore, the painting also express it, not always directly, but also it can be hinted within structure or details.

Do narrativity and spreading illustrativity in painting are not the technology’s and modern imagery’s culture consequences?

I would use the illustrativity concept very carefully. First, illustrativity can be great or terrible. I think, firstly the painting should be evaluated, is it good or bad, is it functional or not. If it’s functional, then any kind of form can be used. For the graphic artist, exactly like for the painter, there are no wrongly good illustrativity, when speaking about art field. Other aspect – art is full of many influences, art areas mixing between each other; for example, painting is affected by cinema or photography. The good artist must stay strong and do not pull off from one’s main creativity axis, which makes one relevant, even though one can be under the sway of other field.

Paskelbta: December 30, 2017

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