9 Whys and Hows with Justinas Krasuckas
1. Your art follows new-classical realism trend. Why you choose to be a classical realism artist? Why not to choose the popular hyper-realism?
Realism has so many tendencies. Let’s start with classical realism which looks back to old masters works and their professionalism. Then, there is hyper-realism, photo-realism where the main goal is a visual copy of an image. For me this art movement is totally cold, mechanic, even robotic and has or shows no personality. I think that classical realism - looking from a technical perspective - is more like thinking and seeing method and from there you can start to create. Hyper-realism or photo-realism inch after inch copies what is on the physical image and it doesn’t look as a fine art painting. When I paint I look for something what is important to me and then I try to find out how to show it. So that is why I paint in realism manner yet my compositions are going into abstraction.
2. What classical realism gives to you? What kind of lessons it teaches you? What challenges do you see?
Looking at the classical realism from the technical aspect again - it gives me understanding, it educates your art taste. You have the amazing foundation of the old masters and you can use their experience. Their goal was art mastery, not being mediocre. To be honest before I start to paint I don’t think about these labels - realism, abstract - I just want to paint, to draw, to engrave an art piece - personally, visually and with an idea. The biggest challenge is probably that people have narrow understanding or misunderstanding about the classical realism - that it ends with the drawings of alabaster heads. When I teach at the classical realism atelier I see that good technical skills give you the freedom and students after finishing courses can be visual artists with abilities to create in different manners and techniques.
3. Nature is one of the main topics in your art. I probably could say that it is the most dominant topic. You take the person out off your canvases and if he is still there - he is just standing there, showing us his back. Person looks like an illusion. Why?
First time I felt the happiness to paint in nature when I was at my first plein-air. Being in the nature and vigilant look into trees, lines of branches, swamps with mirror surfaces and a total chaos in the wild nature - it inspires me. Living in Kaunas city (Lithuania) I have few places where I am traveling to look for motives. And my look is quite abstract - I look for the mood. Nature itself is very similar to human - breaks of the trees, water surfaces, chaos, fog, mist, thunder, rain and etc. - it sounds to me as a personality. Usually, being in the nature I feel melancholic mood. I don’t know why - maybe because I am looking for this.
And a person is a detail of the nature. I did an artwork - etching people going into the water. Here water was as a symbol of different world. And person moving forward goes into that different world. This idea is very interesting for me. The Unknown what you will see when you will be there.
Other times person is like a guide, like a viewer, looking together with you into the nature. For a while I totally eliminated human from my paintings. But now I am going back to the connection between nature and human.
4. You mentioned Classical Realism Atelier. Together with another artist - Donatas Inis who is also is a classical realism follower - you teach at this atelier.
Idea to have an atelier was sitting in our heads for a long time. Together with Donatas we thought that Lithuania needs this school because looking into the other countries atelier type of schools was having their renaissance. In 2014 I was a winner of drawing contest and spent my summer in Florence Art Academy. I saw the best world atelier method from inside. And again together with Donatas we saw how a seeking for mastery helps. Few years ago Donatas finally opened atelier in one of Vilnius Art Academy studio and worked by himself. But more and more people were coming to take courses so I quit my well paid job in video game company (I was a video game artist) and moved from one city to another just to teach there. Since then we are working together.
We teach according XIX century french art academy methods. Attention goes to the drawing - lines, proportion, perspective, lines of shadows and its separation and etc. We work in person with each student according to his level. And when he/she grows into another level we are giving more challenges for them and then we start to paint.
5. And besides of atelier work you also teach at Vilnius Art Academy. Tell me about the challenges that you meet being not just a classical realism painter, but also being such a young artist. (Justinas is in his early 30’s -Bougie Art Gallery).
I teach digital painting for 3rd year graphic students. Digital painting is a must if you want to work as video games/movies/animation artist. For each lesson I prepare myself as best as I can, I take this with full responsibility. We talk how it is possible to reach the best results. Sometimes I need to paint students drawing over - just to show his mistakes and to give an advice how is the best way to approach one or another task. The biggest challenge is to inspire the young generation, to show that they can create their own worlds. Yet there is one more bigger challenge - to show that you need, you must to paint, to draw a lot, like a lot, and to show that they need to seek mastery into their art, because with it you will get the best results. Realism is a real charm for my students and it is a good example how the hard work pays off.
6. You mentioned about spending one summer in Florence Art Academy. I will ask a strange question. What you didn’t like about it?
When I was announced a as winner of the drawing contest I traveled to Florence. I knew about this art academy for a long time because it is known as one of the best atelier type academies in the world. I learned a lot - especially from the technical aspects. I learned about methods, about options how to paint what you see and professors were amazing too. Our class was from 14 people from all over the world. Other students were really interesting and we spent a great time together talking about art, sketching Arno river, renaissance sculptures. It was a really wonderful time and I remember just the best moments. But one of the aspects that I didn’t like was that I got a sun stroke because of the heat. And the public transport was always late.
7. Tell me about what/who inspires you. And what/who makes you to think about your artworks.
In the last few years - nature. And the portraits of people who are important to me. Maybe the most important thing is the personal approach to the topic. I try to paint what is interesting for me, not thinking if someone will like it. I paint just the places where I have been, just those people whom I know. I think what is important for the artist is vigilant look and a feeling of it. And the way how you express all that into canvases. All the other pseudo-intelectuals, linguistic, contemporary art games are not interesting for me.
8. Share the idea about the ideal art exhibit showing your art. What kind of exhibit it should be?
I think the ideal exhibit is where you don’t need to invite people - they are coming by themselves because they want that. Exhibits with Donatas and atelier student would be a very charming exhibit because we are the community, we are the friends. I think ideal exhibit suppose to be the one which reach the people who are interested in my art style and theme. Talking about art gallery - it is very simple - good lightning, white walls, wooden floor and big gaps between the artworks.
9. What is your understanding about art market and art market in Lithuania. Does it needs a change? And if yes, what kind of change? Who is responsible that an art piece leaves artist studio/art gallery and finds a home in a buyers place?
How to say this in a soft way… It is a really sad situation in Lithuania. People are buying kitsch - cheap, bright, colorful paintings with kittens covered in amber, sunsets, rainy city streets images with lovely couple and all the pieces are made with spatula and very rich layer of paints. Here is an example - in music if someone does not catch the note you can hear that, in art you should see it - but it doesn’t work like that. Also I see other tendency - abstract art - now it is becoming a design detail above the sofa or TV. I think you should separate design product from artwork. And talking about the nude paintings - sometimes it is not an erotic, it is a pornography and it catches people attention. Somehow I feel that I live not in the right time because no one cares about subtle, sensibility, mastery, honesty. I just see scandals, mediocre and marketing - how to make an art idol from ar illiterate person.
I think you need to show alternative - to show how to concentrate, to teach it. To show that this concentration and hard work is a road to success. I try to teach this in the atelier. And I try to follow this in my art as well.