Interview with Jana Brike
We are glad to talk again about Jana Brike's art. This lovely lady did already a beautiful pornsaint artwork for us, and we would love to host more of her artworks in our group. Now, we'll have the honor to introduce some new artworks and an insight about her art.
"The Last Breath of Emily" 19.75 x 19.75 inches gouache, tempera, and oil, w/graphite, pen, print, and spray-paintCreated for BLAB!
Francesco D'Isa: Let's start with a boring, usual question. Who are your favorite artists or your greatest artistic inspirations?
Jana Brike: As a fellow artist, I’m inspired not so much by just segregated pictures somebody creates, as by the way of thinking of other creative people who are often my friends, their way of processing their ideas into visual imagery, their daring to be creative and live their dreams through, impossible as it sometimes is, rather than living through a row of compromises, because as far as I can see it is the only way to be true to self and happy. And not just about artist’s career, but life in general, love, day-to- day reality.
But regarding the imagery that touches me, I can of course name a few very randomly – Vladimir Clavijo-Telepnev, Marcel Dzama, Irina Ionesco, Vania Zouravliov, Mika Kato... I might go on and on. I used to keep a blog for referencing images I found inspirational. Not enough time for that anymore.
I see that you work very well both with digital and traditional media. Do you have a favorite media? What are in your opinion the pros and cons of both the sides?
My only self-assignment is to try to build moving, persuasive, touching images, and the media I choose is subordinated to that. There are no pros or cons, just expediency of certain media for building my worlds. I incorporate digital and more traditional media mixing together into one artwork lately. There is a certain aura of a world of mannequins, artificial faultlessness, alienation, which I think represents a very contemporary feeling about life, and I feel like I can incorporate it into my characters in most organic way if I use digital media. I mix it with exquisite handwork with different materials, including traditional meditative painting for days and days with smallest available brushes using magnifier. I see it like combining mind and soul into one.
Besides, I’ve grown up being close to computers. My parents were computer engineers, working on ancient devices with hard discs in a size of millstones in the Institute of Physics, in a scientist’s village of Soviet Union. The most artistry thing these computers could do was to print out images of does and foxes composed of rows of different letters, but I still looked at it as one of the most magical things possible. When I was around 8 years old, we used to have a computer at home, which was of course pre-windows era device, and had just a black blank screen. I learned programming from books and wrote small computer programs and little games on it. I remember vexing my mind for many days around some discrepancies in my mathematical formulas or rows of digits, and the ecstatic pleasure of finding a solution all of a sudden just by myself. So, the choice of digital media is connected with very happy personal reminiscences for me, too.
^ From the blue sketchbook of summer 2011. Blue color pencils on paper.
This is tricky: Why do you do art?
Now it’s become breathing and nutrition to me. I have worlds inside me which force their way out. I’d go crazy if I couldn’t put it out on paper. I’d turn myself into a myth and art.
This is off topic: Are you in love?
This is the trickiest question! I’m often in doubt and wonder what people mean by that. But I’d say I am permanently in love – the sparkling joyous side of being alive, a tender touch of another human, care and attention – if it is true I cannot help but respond to it with the same. If we take grievance and anguish of a relationship, then no, I die from senseless drama. I haven’t had an in-relationship argue in like 10 years. Maybe this ‘abnormality’ has something to do with being an artist and the way I have chosen to process things and life into my images. If one takes things in extremely susceptible and open to everything way, then inviting too much of fatuous drama inside is just suicide.
^ Jana Brike
This is for the website: Do you watch porn? What do you think about pornography?
Is there such person who really THINKS about pornography? I find the old images from before 20’s rather inspiring with their playfulness and sense of humor. “A Free Ride” from 1915 I think is a gorgeous little silent film – so sweet, funny and sexy. They even give some kind of moral in a poetic form alongside with porn scenes. It makes me wish to direct such film or rather an animation, too. I have stockpiled some set of scraps of such found images which move me.
They are not for any autoerotism related purpose though. For example, I have also folders with bunnies and butterflies etc., which are not for any autoerotism related purpose too. It’s an inspirational imagery and reference for work when needed.
I see that you often depict child-alike figures. For example, I'm really in love with one of your works, "The Last Breath of Emily" (19.75" x 19.75" | gouache, tempera, and oil w/graphite, pen, print, and spray-paint | 2011.). I find this work (like most of yours) both erotic, sweet and violent. I'm sure that you had some critics or more probably censorships for some themes of your paintings. What do you think about it? What's your opinion on depicting naked, childish figures in art? To make you feel comfortable, I did as well.
I see the ‘humans’ I paint as being ageless. I have felt ageless since becoming sentient of myself while still being in body of a child, so I paint that feeling. I agree that there is some sensuality in the way their souls reside in their juvenile outer form in my paintings. But these naked playing nymphs and lads in human forms is just about creating mythological dreamscapes as a metaphor of life. I don’t see any founding for controversy. It is all in the imagination.
Regarding censorship, you do know about one case – my painting was not accepted in your Pornsaints’ show because the gallery thought the painted girl looked a bit under eighteen. Well I couldn’t possibly show her driving license, could I? Besides, she was not having sex or something, just picking flowers. How can I possibly comment a case like that? I’ve received some threats regarding one of my latest shows and a couple of hate mails too. Anyway, there is love and trust much more that I receive. Another funny story, somebody had left inscriptions during one night on the gallery wall where my “Book of Taboo” show was. Demanding that my show should be taken (cross out) torn down, and the request was supplemented with quotations of totally unrelated religious psalms. So, funny things happen now and then. I can just say (rephrasing Hitchcock): Calm down, dear, these are just paintings!
Another trapdoor in depicting childish figures: pop surrealism. What do you think about it?
It is a confusing term which means all and nothing. All the contemporary reality – with us all living life as a reality show via social media and not ‘out there’ with all sensations let loose; with alienated mass concepts like looking at individual death on TV news as at human’s failure and not an integral part of life as if hoping that medicine will swipe ageing and death out from this world forever; with unfathomable mass consumption, etc. – is not THAT the real pop surrealism we all take part in?
But I won’t make quibbles; I know what you meant by ‘trapdoor’ in this question though. Am I trying to be just stylish with my imagery? I don’t believe it is possible to masquerade a fake into truth in art. I don’t believe it is possible to move anybody, no matter either deeply positively, or into antagonism, with faking a sensation or idea. I think that basically the task of a visual artist hasn’t changed for centuries. It is still to build an icon. An iconic image, which is powerful enough, and is capable of becoming a metaphorical ‘traffic sign’ for other individual or society. I think there is something powerful in the ‘child’ archetype, something that is very important right now for it to become a comprehensive contemporary sign. Maybe longing for our long lost internal innocence? I am just guessing.
Do you have some new projects, plans for the future, future exhibitions to signalate?
I have a solo show opening in Nov. 17 in Riga, gallery XO. The title of the show is “Milk and Blood”. That’s the main thing on my mind right now. After that I have several exciting new projects – animation film, a few wonderful group shows throughout the year, lots of painting, and more.