We speak to the Lithuanian artist on influences behind his hyper-real but fantastical CG pieces
By Patricia Hallam on February 11th 2016
Who is Art Belikov? - There’s not much information out there (online) about your background, except that you’re Lithuanian. Can you tell us a bit about your personal and educational background. Has that influenced your current artistic practice and how you got to your current style of creating such hyper-real but fantastical CG pieces.
I was raised in Lithuania’s west coast, Klaipėda. Used to play a lot of football back in a day. At my junior high time my grandmother used to paint a lot. Encouraged by her I started to paint myself. Painting is still something I have so much fun doing. I think that painting was my first encounter with art in general. Then followed by graffiti and street art when growing up. Back in 2004 I saw Write4Gold and watched MaClaim Crew painting photorealistic pieces of work kicked me into visual arts. My cultural maturing started right there, staring at those walls. After that I studied at the art academy. Fell in love with Chuck Close, Ralph Goings. God, I fucking loved hyperrealism.
Now i work out of capital city Vilnius. I’m a Graphic Design graduate, working at an ad agency, but nonetheless I still see myself as an artist and a thinker, more than a professional without exceptionality.
While studying I hated 3DSMAX courses. The hell with them, I just slept over them or slept while being at them. I didn’t care about the objects. All I loved was graphic design and print making. When I like something it usually turns out to be my streamline passion. I easily fall in love with something. And I love that part of me.
After I moved to Vilnius my work was mainly still life objects, stock photo manipulation and collages with some cultural narrative and/or heavens went through my mind. These images were supposed to resemble three dimensions. Then my friends from Despotin Beat Club collective requested me to come up with an actual 3D visual print. Fuck, well, why the fuck not, I thought. Our combined talent and art direction kinda hammered down the contemporary internet art in Lithuanian cultural borderlands. Health Goth, the all-around worshiping of black colour, mesh, sports aesthetics, technology, with that inwards goth sense – all of it was an inspiring moment in and out… how it all began.
Could you tell us the idea behind some of your works - for example ‘Teen Girl Dies After Rave’ - are you inspired by real world events and headlines to create your narratives?
To sum up my art in somewhat coherent and philosophical terms, my whole work is about crafting a new world that basically is a surrealistic and abstract visual universe IRL. Social profiling, medias, elements of different cultures, music, mainstream culture, environments, my physical and metaphysical experiences in life. Everybody has experiences. I’m articulating them to come up with an non-articulate expression. It’s something like capturing a sentence in your mind-flow to a visual form. And it’s usually a paradox. A manifestation against realness with real life’s objects. The ideas are aesthetically anarchist moments of my personal life, agony, apathy, joy, admiration, infatuation, aesthetic perception, and once in a way anti-art or outsider styles. Teen Girl Dies After Rave was just a brief moment in my life, an event in my life, a disgust to the populace and the society, their negatives and moments of failure.
One of your most frequent themes is to use famous corporation’s logos in your work. Can you elaborate on why that is?
This is a counteraction, my deliberate act against the excess of branding and uniform behaviour throughout the society and media. I work around logos and brands to employ them in an environment they do not or function the way we are used to. Their glorification of logos has irony and works as a backhand blow, a philosophical contrast. As an advertising person I work with them for their glory. As an artist I work against it. But I embrace them, rather than dismiss it.
Do you read about art, philosophy, or critical theory? If so, which authors inspire you?
I read about art and follow stuff that’s going on or buy books and journals (art, photography, biographies). I don’t usually read much, because it shapes the perception. I like not to be affected too much, so visual content works better for inspiration and thoughts.
Are you involved in other creative or social activities (i.e. music, writing, activism, community organizing)?
Been working with music lately, helping to shape the obscurity of the sound and environment in visual communication. From video, print and digital art to scenography and overall art direction. We have a close-to-commercial joke about shoes NORMALŪS BATELIAI (eng. Regular Shoes). As if “What are thooose?“ was a community. Also I contribute to Lithuanian DJ scene by making series of posters and graphic material for events in the city. As I walk by I usually see my work being glued to old town walls.
Could you tell us about any particular themes you’re interested in exploring?
My childhood is always an interest of mine. The music I used to hear, smells that pops my consciousness on & off, environments, flashbacks. I’m living a perpetual nostalgia. And I actually miss ‘em good ol’ days. Meditation is also a topic nowadays. Not on a cultural or emotional basis, but on a technicality and more western sense. Listening to yourself makes the real difference. Also listening to Shoegaze music does. That’s why my work is usually grimy, grainy, shady and faded. The spectrum blur, visual echo, and sense of a memory this is both my experience and i want to transmit exactly that.
If you could collaborate with any artist of any discipline who would it be and why?
Would love to do an audio-visual project with Oneohtrix Point Never, i wish Oasis would come back together so I could make them a poster for their world tour. Would love to do some crazy shit together with Ryan Trecartin. If Andy Warhol was alive I would love to collab with Billy Name and turn his silver factory into a golden factory and after that take some polaroid pics with Andy.
What's new? What's next?
Work. Near future is about exploring more stuff, approaching with new perspectives, and new techniques. I have group exhibitions in the days to come. Lately I’ve been thinking much about sculpture. Ask me next year, maybe I will be doing something with that. There’re some long-term projects like my photography album, and a full-length feature film. Hopefully I won’t settle.
Last year Art Belikov exhibited at Newman Festival in Druskininkai (Lithuania), Transmediale | Vorspiel in Berlin (Germany) and Connect the Dots in Sheffield (UK).