“When painting, communicate the Inner Realm, cross the boundaries of the human mind, touch the Soul, and find revelation through artwork.”
– Gustavs Filipsons.
WAS THERE A PIVOTAL MOMENT WHEN YOU DECIDED TO FOLLOW YOUR PATH AS AN ARTIST?
When I was a child, I used to read a lot. I was inspired by fairy tales of different nations, especially those living in the far north. I felt there was something very true in those “Fantasies.” The way they looked at Nature and saw the spirits behind it truly captured me. I walked through the woods, capturing images in fallen trunks, or listened to the birds as if they were one of us or delivered some meaningful message. Everything was alive and spoke to me. I was so filled with energy I did not know where to put it.
I was also profoundly inspired by the city (Riga) I was born in, its old architecture, and its different moods in different seasons. At that time, everything seemed to live its own life and had its unique spirit. Dark Art Nouveau houses in Autumn evenings became alive in feeble lamplight, swinging in the wind above the street. Those mythical silhouettes and symbols at that time had much greater influence on me than the bypassing Soviet Era.
After years of asking myself who I would be, I knew I wanted to be an artist. I wished to carry the way I look at things and feel them further and already then, I was confronted with a way of thinking the “real” world possesses. That made my conviction even stronger to become a storyteller only in visual art. I felt I was born for it. So the idea of becoming an artist and studying Arts was clear to me at the age of 15.
Understanding that I think differently came to me at a very early age. I was attending kindergarten when I realized my concepts of who I am and how I see the world differ from others.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WORK FOR US?
Abstract art is the means for me to let the spectator widen their perception of one’s self and the spiritual Universe it inhabits. The sole intention and purpose of my work is to communicate the unknown in my subconscious mind and to find the connection with our true self, which I believe is something in common, we all possess.
WHAT DOES YOUR WORK AIM TO SAY?
The sole intention and purpose of my work is to communicate with the unknown in our subconscious mind. To find the connection with our true selves, I believe is something common, we all possess. Another goal is to create artwork that would be some kind of new, if not new, then original kind of work, expressing oneself in terms of artistical form inside abstractionism.
The main concept of my art is to reveal and, at the same time, come “in contact” with the “inner realm” of one’s “true self,” which I believe is hidden due to the complexities of everyday life. An ordinary man hardly ever comes into contact with it because the strategy to hide from their” true self” seems much more appealing. All my life, I have been craving to search for it, And art has been the means to discover myself, find revelations on the vastness of the human soul, find liberation, and finally peace with myself. I believe this is something we all consciously or subconsciously try to manage. Many things come under this concept of “true self.” It can be deep fears or emotions regarding the love of a higher origin. It can be spiritual experiences caught during his or her life. It can be “highlights” or visions of a “higher mind” inside an individual. In psychology, there is a concept of “collective subconsciousness,” where all the experience of mankind dwells. If you have an insight you can contact it and transcend the images and feelings or energies in order to highlight the path of a man to further spiritual growth or even mankind’s as a whole. There is a special form of imagery the subconscious mind uses when it constitutes itself in a human being. Mostly we come in touch with it in our dreams, but if we are closer to it, it can be seen all over the place, as life itself can be assumed as a dream in a dream. There is another thesis as “a spirit world.” In fact, we all live in one interconnected spiritual Universe where many dimensions meet and interreact simultaneously, everything is connected, and our mind and heart, and soul, all of it, help us navigate through it in order to achieve spiritual growth and closer to being Higher essence-God itself. Our experiences are needed to discover our True Essence. Many manifestations in a dream state constitute the state in the real world-even more-the images and conversations in a dream serve as guidelines to solve the problems that lie ahead. Mostly “a sign” is a guideline or a benchmark that marks the turning point of man’s spiritual path or life path, what is one for it serves one another. In order to capture all this, a special form of thinking is demanded-the imaginative one. To read a sign and to deliver it, one must have constant contact with the subconscious mind or whatever you wish it to be. I believe there is a higher mind embodied in us to guide us in all life processes through every situation, both in individuals or mankind as such. The thesis “All is one and one is all” is absolutely right. If there is a higher creator then it would have been totally logical to assume that this higher being is never separated from himself. That actually He is everything that is. So everything that happens is Him, and everything that happens-happens with a higher reason, and the reason is evolution-the growth. The growth can be directed-and we have a choice of which direction to take. An artist is a medium to deliver much of it.
The themes in my art are whatever this inner mind chooses to be useful for the purpose of evolution- where there is an energy to interact, awaken a person’s mind, and let it think and analyze. Let it look deeper and not hide from fears to go forth.
Abstract is the way the sign constitutes itself. Abstract is the way of thinking through which to reach reveal and communicate. It is the perfect language to express Universal ideas-mind itself is Abstract, because it encompasses so much simultaneously and works simultaneously in different levels, even dimensions, but one sign can unite all those processes in one-in order to mark the direction, which is one in the end, and it is Him.
The core themes: birth of life where there is death. The hope for eternal life bears both – Life and Death, but is life alone after we have gone through the Circles.
Love towards everything that exists because God is everything.
Light dwells in the darkness as a feeble hope, but what has the potential to bring us forth like a thousand suns.The light of the Spirit of God, where we belong to.
The suffering that makes us stronger. All the calamities and obstacles that had been in our way towards the light also contribute, whereas without them, we would be incapable of assessing the meaning of true life’s force in us. The forgiveness and compassion all of it is embodied in my artwork.
Laconism is the bases of the sign. In order to reach the spectator’s inner realm, one must be precise and sharp in its approach. There are so many things in this flow of energy in our life that distract us from our core goals and purpose. That keeps us unaware of who we are and where we are going. There I come in with my artwork.
All this is what I would like to communicate to the spectator of my artwork.
HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR WORK FITS WITHIN SOCIETY IN OUR PRESENT TIME?
I think I am continuing the mission of being an artist, the mediator between the dimensions of eternal and present. As long as the artist has got something to say, he or she has a role to play in society. An artist is a visionary concerned with themes that are not accepted by ordinary minds at all times. The mission is to show new thinking and break boundaries, showing aesthetics of spiritual meaning. Drive society to transform into a better being. No one likes that. That is the price the artist takes. I think my work fits perfectly. I want to remind we are timeless in our true selves.
WHEN LOOKING BACK, WHAT ARTWORKS COME TO MINDA THAT MOST RELATE TO YOUR LIFE STORY?
There has been a shift in my artistic style over the years. In my earlier works, more realistic traces and surroundings can be felt. In time I have become more abstract and images have grown more like “sign.” I have started to exploit strong lines instead of blurry ones. This can be seen by comparing the artwork “Reflection” 2007 to the artwork “Wound” 2008. I think one of the core works I have produced is “By the window” 2010. This artwork comprises all the qualities I was speaking of before. The work arose out of “nowhere,” without any sketch material or whatever. In this artwork, I have found my artistic self. That’s why it is so important to me. Using black in my paintings is to show the capacity of black, that it appears black just seemingly. It has an enormous propensity to show diversity in its shades and hues. The spectator is set to break the boundaries and reveal the space where there is flat. One of the most important works of “today” is “At the Sea” 2018. Expression remains, but everything is still, solid bang geometric except “the face” that is set in contrast to icy surroundings. My latest work “Birthplace” 2019 I see as a new phase where all my previous seekings meet and where I experience solely love towards what I do, not bothering much about any kind of concepts at all.
WHO ARE YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCES?
I drive inspiration from the paintings of Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Marc Chagall, Kazimir Malevich, Vassilij Kandinsky, and Paul Klee. I admit that those big artists in their art have struggled to achieve much the same goals I strive for. The reason I have the urge to paint is embedded in myself, and I believe I can also produce art that is capable of communicating with the spectator. Those artists I mentioned are the relatives in my artistic mind. I deeply admire them for their talent and devotion, which is crucial. That’s very hard for a man to carry the idea through life when everybody gives a shit of what you do for a long time. That tests everything. And through this real attitude arises if you survive. Those guys have.
“Extraction” Oil, Acrylic On Canvas. 150x120cm by Gustavs Filipsons – Star Of The Week
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
When painting I do everything to match the flow of energy to be delivered in artwork. First place You have to be open to creative impulses to guide you. My mind in my life is constantly set in a state that allows me to capture symbols and the logic of events that happen in relations. All that actually matters is mind flow that is set right. This striving to achieve this has been with me since I remember myself. For all my Life, I have sensed that all is alive, even stones, and all is speaking to me. Later I understood that I must deliver some message of what I feel. Since then i am serving this goal. Much has, of course, changed in my way of perception. I have understood that the “core” is found in the human mind itself, and its capacities are enormous. The thing is, a man doesn’t have to fill it with garbage but keep it like an “open window”.Painting is also the goal in itself. That helps to keep this window of mind open. Much of my inspiration is driven from dreams, I used to practice conscious dreaming also. Dreams tell much, and open much, but they can also lure you in a pit. Not everything is good inside this realm. To trust your intuition, while painting is essential. I love painting layer by layer, until the actual artwork “arises”. Sometimes many already finished motifs transform into totally different picture until it “finds” the “right” “position”. Sometimes I use sketching.I sketch a lot from my head,then i use what captures my interest as a base for an artwork, that later also is subjected to change. But composition more or less remains previously set. Images in my artwork can vary from Abstract to semi-abstract,the main goal is the manifestation of secret and energy inside an artwork. Artwork as such is a conversation that reveals and opens something.Tells something. The subconscious mind tells something that captures. Here the work is finished. You are filled with satisfaction and excitement. The painting process is quick, and I use different kinds of spackling knives, brushes, glosses, and paints. Spray paint mix with acrylic,oil. Use markers. I splash, scratch, lets say, bite the canvas, to achieve the unpredictable in predictable. And vice versa. But i can say,all of it comes in freedom, I know intuitively what to do further. Color scheme usually is dark,but in time I have incorporated more color. Texture plays a pretty significant part in paintings logic. I love compositions in scratches and textures itself. That constitutes,much in hidden energy within. Usually I paint on canvas. The technique is developed to let unintentional to become intentional, that’s why it first hand appears a kind of brutal, because this process is like a volcano that sculpts. I am interested in the pure logic of interconnection of the certain images which had aroused unintentionally in the process of such painting, actually they have acquired certain logic. The same is about spaces and their relations in painting that seems flat for the untrained eye, but has deepness within. Images can cover images, even ten finished paintings sometimes can cover each other, until the actual artwork arises. I use rollers to apply the paint also. In the future I plan to broaden the material stuff i use. I also believe that in order to create a good Art, one doesn’t have to use plenty of materials. You just need the materials to create what has to be created.
When starting to paint, an artist can develop the idea for a project before he finds the canvas, and vice a versa. My approach to creation is both of those two mentioned methods. That depends on the state of mind I am in at the moment I prepare myself for the painting process. On canvas I am trying to realize just the most vivid images or “realities”. But exactly on canvas the painting actually is born. I do sketching,make photos of different kind, then fragment them and find what captures me in it. After putting on canvas the actual image I still transfer it tremendously to suit it my inner eye and feeling. The moment an excitement appears in me I know I am on the right path and soon the piece is ready. There are times I start to paint without any preparation at all. Just paint and look where “the path” leads. Images and planes appear,and I am after it, looking for the inner logic of pictorial space. That is like venturing into the unknown.
Most of the cases there is some originally found sketch on the bases of which i develop my work. Its always found by some unconscious way, unintentionally, but I still go further and develop it letting intuition lead me.
When painting, there is a moment I crave for that the moment I feel the piece fills with energy, the image becomes alive and speaks to me. That is not what happens from the very beginning. Only then I can be sure, the piece is worth something. Sometimes it takes some time to reach that goal. There are times the connection is weaker, there are times it is stronger.
The best advice regarding art i was given is “In order to create and complete an artwork “decently” one must be able to sacrifice the places and spots you love the most,but which hinder from achieving unity and allowing bigger ,more impressive sense to appear. The goal is some “supper task”. One has to feel its found. More important is the logic and interconnection of images and directions of textures or lines, than one beautiful spot.”
WHAT VISUAL REFERENCES DO YOU DRAW UPON IN YOUR WORK?
My artwork is intended to be an energy flow, that speaks for itself. I am aware of being put formaly alongside early abstractionists, but I can say I develop my own original independent approach and creation of imagery. Of course I agree there are similarities in a way my art is created. Then let it be my reference.
At any case I believe art should stand apart from being captured and selected,and weighed, and then thrown away as it hasnt even been.Artist has to stand away from that and follow the calling to convey the message a new, regardless what ”package” it uses, if only its true. Then its true dimension of art itself. Its like being alive can never be too ”old school”.
ANY UPCOMING PROJECTS?
In nearest time there is going to be my solo exhibition ”Birthplace”arranged in ”Jurmala Museum”, Latvia. In march I am going to take part in the annual international group exhibition ”Sprung 7” arranged by Arthouse.NYC team.