Clowns, graveyards and split trousers: the surreal worlds of Līva Kandevica
Freakish characters are trapped in what seems to be a prison cell, while a hat-wearing lady joyously lounges on the beach with a crab. These are the scenes of the disparate work of the Leipzig-based illustrator, where quite literally anything can happen.
- Ayla Angelos
- 17 December 2019
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Freakishly clown-like characters are trapped in what seems to be a barred prison cell, while a hat-wearing lady joyously lounges on the beach with a crab. Another image sees a redhead pose with split trousers, while another sees its protagonist anguish over the fact they’ve spilt liquid on their drone. These are the scenes of the disparate work of illustrator Līva Kandevica, where quite literally anything can happen. “I reflect my everyday life into my work,” she tells It’s Nice That. “It has a lot to do with sexy clowns, creepy men and cute butterflies.”
Līva grew up in Latvia and moved to Germany eight years ago to further her creative education. She studied Communication Design with an illustration focus in Halle, before transitioning to the nearby city of Leipzig, where she now spends most of her time. Perhaps her Latvian upbringing – known for its distinctive landscape marked by wide beaches and dense forests – is what has subconsciously influenced her creatively and spurred on these twisted displays of nature, such as transmogrified butterflies and enlarged bats flying through a graveyard. Or perhaps it’s down to her father being a stonemason. “Growing up, I watched him draw roses, portraits of dead people and tree leaves, and then carve that all into a gravestone,” she says. “I suppose unconsciously it influenced my choice of career a lot.”
While forming her compositions, Līva works spontaneously. “Usually, I don’t do sketches,” she says, instead preferring to commence her illustrative constructions through the act of drawing. Then, she will compose and construct the picture, before turning towards acrylics to add a splurge of colour – be it patches of earthy greens, charcoal grey or a vibrant blood red. “If I hate the outcome, I destroy it and do another one,” she adds. But once Līva lands on a picture that she likes, she will continue to build on its uncanny nature.
A recent example of this can be seen in her self-published zine, Good Weather Wear. Līva explains how in her spare time – while taking time off from her ominous drawings – she began to illustrate fashion. “The words started to become more and more and I decided to put it all together in a zine,” she says. “It’s a mix of clown-esque wearables, snakes as a fashion element, anthropomorphised shoes, freaks of the past and future.” Indeed something pulled from a contradictory mix of the past and future times to come, her character work is what catches your eye the most. It’s the pupil-less, diamond shaped eyes and unusually wide smiles, the faces in the palm of the hand, faces in the shoes, and partially coloured-in scenes that make you question the reality of it all. “This kind of free work is exciting for me because it’s not clear in which direction it’s going – it becomes more absurd with time.”
Unnerving yet oddly charming, there is no distinctive meaning or hidden agenda hidden throughout Līva’s portfolio of illustrations. Instead, she instills a universal approach. “I don’t want to push my own opinions on others, so the viewer is free to interpret it for themselves,” she continues to say. “I don’t expect one particular reaction; it’s good if people have ambivalent feelings for it.”