A Conversation with Vytautas Laisonas, a Lithuanian Painter
Vytautas Laisonas, a Lithuanian painter, lives and works in Biržai, a city in northern Lithuania. His artwork is already beautifying the homes and collections in Japan, USA, Germany, Italy, France, Hungary, etc... Vytautas kindly took the time to share his thoughts, ideas, and artwork with me. I am very happy to share them with you. Enjoy!
Tell me a little bit about your first encounters with art. Why did you choose painting as your form of expression?
I have been interested in art since early childhood - from around ten or twelve years old. At the beginning I was drawn to the graphics. Later on, around the age of nineteen, I found the painting. For the first trials I used the acrylic paint and then I switched to oil. I am still faithful to it because it allows me to express myself in the best way.
Do you have a creative vision/mission/theme that functions like a „north star“ or „centre of gravity“ in your work?
My mission is very simple. There is a saying that suits me (and perhaps to all other people who create) „if you don‘t need to sing, dance or write, don‘t do it.“ Personally, I need to paint – I can‘t live without it. I don‘t have a central theme that repeats throughout my work. I am interested in a lot of things: romantic relationships, music (mostly performed with wind-instruments), and the utopian cities.
Your work reminds me the elegance and warmth of Modigliani or Gustav Klimt, the collage-style of Marc Chagall, and Aušra Čapskytė‘s playfulness and color palettes. Do you like these artists? Which ones are inspirational for you? I am fascinated by many authors - the full list would be really long. Yes, Gustav Klimt is on the list. From the Lithuanian artists, I like Algis Griškevičius and Arūnas Žilys.
Your series „The Other Cities“ transfers a traditional city into the different worlds and challenges us on the true meaning of the city. Your cities are „seeded“ and „live“ on the ship, around the tree, above the clouds or at the footer of an apple. Perhaps you like to imagine the world „upside down“ :} How do you see these worlds, what are you looking for within them and what are you trying to tell us through them?
I like to play with the cities. Sometimes I personify them, sometimes I transform them into a city-kingdom, sometimes I show an utopian city, sometimes I simply test how far I can change the shape, the size and the location without loosing the concept of a city and its true meaning.
I like to „plant“ the cities around various locations as if the cities were the colourful mosses. Or I suddenly „throw in“ an alien into the city, e.g. the giant apple, and I observe how the city handles this. The other day I received a funny comment about my painting „The Apple“ „I wonder what they (the city dwellers) will do once the apple starts rotting..“.
I like when people embark on this game together with me and allow themselves to dream.
Through my cities I ask people to take a different look into our global world and its greatness which sometimes is very fragile.
There are quite a lot of elfs in your work. What is their symbolic meaning to you and why have you chosen them?
I want to develop my own personage and thus I‘ve started with the small people.
In what type of environment do you enjoy to work? Does the environment influence you? I have a very cosy atelier with the firewood driven heater. I always listen to music when I paint and sometimes it really inspires me.
When is the best and the most difficult time for you to paint? It is the most difficult when I can‘t realize my creative ideas to the fullest. But these are also the happy moments, because one learns, improves and moves forward with every new artwork.
How and where do you search for inspiration? In the work of other artists, nature, within yourself, books..? It is always a spontaneous thing. I can never predict the time or location of when the inspiration will catch me. Sometimes when painting a scene, I get an urge to create ten more variations of it.
I only feel how various things effect me. I believe I am influenced and inspired by the artwork of my Lithuanian colleagues and the foreign artists, movies, daily situations, a very familiar but also a pleasantly surprising nature of Biržai, and a calm city life.
*What type of literature and music do you enjoy? I like various music and I can't say that I am devoted to one particular style. I enjoy the original classical music of Vienna, the modern interpretations of the classical music, music with the jazz elements, quality pop, rock bands who are not afraid to experiment. At the moment I could highlight the Icelandic work and my two favourite bands „múm“ and „Sigur Rós“.
Concerning the literature, I read the visual arts related one.
What are your ideas, themes or plans for the future work? It would be extremely difficult to define what I will paint in a year, a half, or a decade. Every day near the canvas is a different one because of my different thoughts, mood or spiritual state. I can‘t foresee my feelings. I am driven by a constant search. I am not bouncing but rather changing little by little.