Daily Dozen with Lithuanian artist Vytautas Viržbickas


Photo: Vytautas Juozėnas

During the recently held viennacontemporary 2016 contemporary art fair, the works of Lithuanian artist Vytautas Viržbickas (1987) caught the eye of . Gallery Vartai, the only representative at the fair from the Baltic States, presented in its booth a solo exhibition by Viržbickas titled “Creators Are the Best Manipulators”. Several art professionals, including the notable Belgian art collector Alain Servais, commended the young artist’s work and the gallery’s presentation.

Viržbickas’ accomplishments could also be seen this year as part of Vartai’s celebratory 25th anniversary group show, “Žilvitis”.

Vytautas Viržbickas. Creators are the best manipulators, 2016

Vytautas Viržbickas' work sees him reflect upon mechanisms that make up our contemporary social world-model, which intertwines all of the following: the power of information, modern culture, military geopolitics, and our consumer society – as well as an individual’s loneliness. Viržbickas uses associations, the context of materiality, and a deconstruction of narrative to create objects as well as spacial stories.

Vytautas Viržbickas. To know the difference between intellect and power as well as which one is more satisfying, 2016

Vytautas' work, in the context of young contemporary art, is also unique by the fact that he focuses a lot of attention (and work) on the material form of the work, its relationship with space, the physical experience, and the creative process.

Vytautas Viržbickas. Meaning on the verge of banality, 2015. Exhibition view

In order to gain a better understanding of Viržbickas, the person, lobbed the artist a dozen questions on daily matters.

What's the best moment of your day?

Good question. Well, sometimes the whole day cannot be productive or successful. I like making the most of my time, so probably, the best moment of the day is when I manage to achieve the results I have set for myself.

Why do you work as an artist?

I can't quite put my finger on what it actually is that motivates me to create, but one of the main motivators is really a wish to see my idea for an artwork become materialized. On the one hand, it really helps to pursue your objective; on the other hand, I often just forget to take pleasure in the creative process. I wish for myself, and for others, to see the process as the most pleasant motivator for creating.

Which films, concerts, exhibits, or books have left a lasting impression on you?

A big impact on my personal development has been made by Zygmund Bauman's books on sociological theory, which I read back in my student days. I can say that it is thanks to him that I began to investigate social constructs and problems of society in my own work. Even if it may sometimes be difficult to observe that in the artwork, in terms of the energy of the work, it often remains full of a certain mood relating to a problem relevant to the society of the time. Later on, those books and their experience succeeded one another; some were forgotten. Apart from that, I can't really name any other forms of art. At the moment, the best library of information for me is a Youtube channel where I spend quite a lot of my free time. It's often related to the technical stages of making art, or just looking at various qualities of different materials.

Vytautas Viržbickas. Sounds like occupation, 2016. Exhibition Willow at Gallery Vartai

Where do you currently get ideas for your works?

Well, I really don't go very far. I just suck in this information that's around me and try to make a reduction of it. Much of my work from the last couple of years has been heavily influenced by geopolitical and social crises that are engulfing the world. Some of them are directly related to Lithuania itself (e.g., social inequality and a sense of insecurity). So it's only natural that it permeates my work. Also, it often happens that one piece of art causes another one to occur, so you only have to not stop and carry on working.

Which work(s) of art would you like to have in your possession?

Good question. I never thought about owning art. I'm very practical in this regard. Due to the specificity of my art, I accumulate things anyway; when I create new artworks, I try to save up some free space without cluttering up the little that I have of it around me.

What do you do when you’re not occupied with art?

I probably don't do much, and just lie in bed with my computer. Although that doesn't happen often. Even when I’m not physically creating art, I often plan and rearrange things to do in my mind. I’m always thinking about what I will do or should do later on.

Vytautas Viržbickas, Ieva Rojūtė. The secret, 2016. Photo: Gedvilė  Tamošiūnaitė

Do you sleep a lot?

I think, yes. For me, sleep is sacred rest that I never ignore. I try to keep some sort of healthy day and night rhythm.

What is one of the most important things in your studio?

My tools, and my pet rats.

What do you like to eat, and what don’t you like?

I like eating food that I feel is healthy and nutritious in many ways. Right now I'm trying to give up meat, so I am looking for new veggie recipes. What I really dislike is dishes stuffed with raisins.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be?

Hahaha, I wanted to be a chef or an electrician!

Name three creative individuals, from any era, with whom you’d gladly spend an evening.

I see myself in our time, so I can't even think of past eras. We recently lost a very bright person, an ambassador of culture in Lithuania, Leonidas Donskis. I didn't have a chance to meet him in person, but it would have been a great honor for me to spend an evening with him. Also, the designer Sam Malooof, who had not only his own exceptional feel for shape, but also a very conscious understanding of his place in the world as an artist. The third person should be really something exceptional, but I don't want to name people everyone knows. You know, a good friend of mine once said that there comes an age in life when all of your peers become somehow exceptional professionals in their own areas. That’s true, and it's wonderful. I would really like to have the time to meet with all of them. Or rather, not only the time, but the ability, too...

Vytautas Viržbickas. Bench for homeless, 2016