Today, there is a prevailing air of artists putting their tools to the task of vividly portraying all things intimate; more photographers are daringly capturing the erotic, and an increasing number of filmmakers trade busy dialogue for a motif of quiet shots, to reveal a character’s psyche. In Aistė Stancikaitė’s work she creates a similar effect, pulling us into a fuchsia pink world where, once settled, we can appreciate her offering of a glimpse into the sexy, the fun and the human.
In the earlier years of her practice, Aistė was committed to a slower way of working, drawing only in red, with recognisable subjects and accessories surrounded by white space. Her oil and acrylic paintings now engulf the viewer, as she plays with shadow and gets almost too close for comfort. “I was interested in the possibilities that painting can open up, and the impact of larger scale work,” she tells us. Having now found her language and a wider colour palette full of reds, blues and hints of burnt umber, she is amazed by the avenues that have opened along the way (a dual exhibition in Seoul that closed only last month and some “selective” commercial projects). “I feel like my painting and drawing practices complement each other and they constantly expand alongside each other. It allows me to create work in a more liberated and intentional way,” she adds.
Aistė has always taken a less-is-more approach in her work throughout the years. And lately, she’s been evermore drawn to isolated close-ups that she later enlarges in scale. Looking at one of her paintings is almost dizzying as its perspective is well within an intimate space, but also way clearer than the eye will ever be able to make out; her subjects’ teeth have the authority of daggers, and the creases in their shirts and gloves are as visually impactful as waves. Despite her grand delivery, she isn’t only interested in painting close-ups for the sake of it, but also leaving part of the composition “in the dark” as a way to communicate her themes of loneliness, longing and desire.
Surprisingly to us, one of the main challenges that Aistė meets in her work is ensuring that her paintings are both conceptually and visually engaging. “In each piece I am striving to balance the simplicity of the compositions with stimulating visuals that are equal parts thought-provoking and seductive,” she tells us. “When I look at art, it often starts with the piece engaging me, which then draws me to explore the layers of context behind it. And that’s what I aim to achieve in my work.”
When you first saw Aistė’s work, you were probably inclined to do these two things: mentally list the body parts that you see in her paintings, and then, stare wondering how she achieves such a tantalising realism – in pink. But, after sitting with them for a while, the real awe-striking element is in her ability to place the taboo and ordinary at the same level; she makes a quarter profile – showing off only the ear – and an almost completely silhouetted face feel as alluring as gloved hands pressed against the buttocks. And, as the artist gets ready for a series of exhibitions across Europe and the United States, we are sure that a whole new audience will be made to feel the same. “I want to captivate the viewer, make them explore, ask questions and keep them coming back for more.”
About the Author
Yaya (they/them) is a staff writer at It's Nice That, with a particular interest in Black visual culture. They have previously written for publications such as WePresent, and worked as researcher and facilitator for Barbican and Dulwich Picture Gallery.