Nothing but work on her mind

Auguste Petre

Express-interview with the Amsterdam-based Latvian artist Evita Vasiļjeva


Through 25 November 2018, Tallinn City Gallery (Tallinna Linnagalerii) is hosting an exhibition by the Amsterdam-based Latvian artist Evita Vasiļjeva entitled ‘Still Stands and Resilient Nows’ featuring her most recent works ‒ attempts to create enduring form working in various materials. The artist describes the show as a complex and abstract mental construction:The clay is cracked by steel rods, which penetrate and characterize the structures. “Still Stands” are the emblems of timeless duality. The intangible is intertwined with the sculpture.’

Photo: Evita Vasiļjeva

Your solo exhibition ‘Still Stands and Resilient Nows’ is currently on view at the Tallinn City Gallery. How do you interpret this title and what does it imply? What is the concept behind the exhibition?

I was very interested in how the title would be translated into other languages. I usually name my works in English. What I love is that there is a certain detachment in my relationship with the English language ‒ that I can assume a position of sort of observing how each word looks and what happens if you swap them around. I must have borrowed this approach from Gertrude Stein. Back translation from Latvian would be ‘Silent Figures and Elastic Presents’.

I wanted to centre the exhibition around the combination of the technique of concrete casting with separate ceramic works. In both cases form is something enduring, something that remains after the various processes it has undergone. That is what I refer to as the ‘still stands’. The ‘resilient nows’ came about from my interest in time and the ways in which numerous ‘nows’ make up a span of time. Is there even such a thing as separate nows? 

Photo: Evita Vasiļjeva

It seems that the principles of two-fold perception converge in your works; on the one hand, the material and form seem physically heavyish, and yet the conceptual aspect and titles of the pieces appeal with their lightness. Does duality play a present and significant role in your creative process?

Yes, definitely! I often think about the two sides of a coin and some almost impossible contrasts, like, for instance, heavy yet simultaneously light. I like combining a hard process of making a piece with a certain light-hearted attitude to avoid the result being too dramatic.

Photo: Evita Vasiļjeva

Is there a material that you most prefer to work in?

I suppose there isn’t one. I would say that I like basic materials like metal, wood, plastic, rubber, cardboard, concrete, clay, image. I’d probably give preference to metal rods, cardboard and concrete because they are fast and easy to manipulate with. Clay used to drive me crazy: it is so capricious and demands so much patience and certain care. I like materials I am not afraid to break.

Photo: Evita Vasiļjeva

Is the social aspect important to you as an artist ‒ the way in which the particular piece or exhibition strikes a chord with the viewers and influence them?

What kind of social aspect? Yes, I frequently discuss with my friends the associations and feelings evoked by my works. I am interested in which nuances get noticed and which ones not, and how it varies depending on the viewer’s personal interests. More sensitive viewers may like one kind of nuances while the macho types go for others.

What sort of effect do you think your latest exhibition ‘Still Stands and Resilient Nows’ will have on the viewers?

Hopefully they will like it; perhaps something will catch their attention, intrigue and make them curious.

Photo: Evita Vasiļjeva

You are an active exhibiting artist since 2013, and you have also had your solo exhibitions in different parts of the world. How has your creative work and your personal take on art changed due to these events?

Perhaps I am increasingly interested in searching for my own path, less so in compromising. It is also what I admire in other artists who devote themselves to developing a highly personal art practice and do not follow any trends or give in to social pressure. My perception has become more acute with time; my interests have grown more specific. Experience has taught me to try and work with people whom I respect and want to collaborate with and say no to things I do not find interesting.

Do you have any new projects in mind?

Definitely! On the morning after the opening I was already thinking about concrete and purple colour. But I have to get back to Amsterdam first to be able to do nothing but work and not travel anywhere.

Photo: Evita Vasiļjeva 

Photo: Evita Vasiļjeva

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