Cascades of flowers, multicoloured butterflies and majestic waves. Bodies and faces of a refined elegance imbued with femininity. All in constant movement, a dance of elements which in unison create the unmistakable artistic scenery of Lithuanian artist Jana Brike.
Born in Riga, Lithuania, in 1980, Jana Brike studied painting at the Academy of Fine Art and graduated with a Masters in 2005. Her paintings have achieved international popularity but it is worth noting that Brike’s work has been exhibited in galleries ever since 1996 while she was still in her teens, and since then she has had 13 personal shows and nearly 100 collective exhibitions the world over.
Her primary interest has always been visual art with a strong narrative, mainly using the traditional medium of oil on canvas. She has also explored other media such as drawing, animation, sculpture and mixed media, installations and digital art.
The primary focus of Jana Brike’s art is the interior space and state of mind of the individual: dreams, desire, love, pain, the vast range of emotions which the human condition offers and the transcendence of all of these, growth and self-discovery. In synthesis, her work is her poetic visual autobiography.
Born and bred in Lithuania, Jana lives in quite a harsh environment where the surrounding aesthetics focus on being functional or imposing and there is precious little emphasis on beauty.
She therefore grew up searching for this missing beauty anywhere it might be found: a flower or butterfly in the garden, her grandmother’s lace or the illustrations in old church books, films about fairytales or ballet performances. She was searching for that feeling of pleasure and quiet and wanted to become part of it, or rather herself become she who was capable of creating such beauty.
As often is the case, she failed to find that satisfaction she was searching for during her university studies. Painting still lifes, models, and executing exercises in composition, technique and style did not provide her with sufficient stimulation. The artist gradually began to abandon the concept of a “right” or “wrong” way of doing anything in art, especially when dealing with narration. What mattered to her was to do it in a way she liked, a way which rang true with her own nature.
The pressure in an art school where students are urged to experiment with new things but at the same time any mistakes are continually assessed according to a classification system acted as a major brake to her creativity.
This is why despite her tender age she bravely began to exhibit her work even though she was not yet a fully fledged artist and decided to surrender herself to the public without fear of negative criticism. She therefore grew and evolved in the limelight of public opinion. Without fear of changing even if what she was currently creating was a success, she did not think twice about following her instinctive change of direction, flying in the face of trends in the market and its supposed preferences.
Her work therefore evolved and changed over the decades but as far as the current Jana Brike is concerned, in so far as we can speak about allusions to sexuality, it is perhaps more accurate to refer back to re-establishing a connection with one’s own body. In the society in which we live in, with the hectic pace of life with all the personal and global issues, people live outside of their bodies and inside their minds, or completely engrossed in their feelings.
For Jana painting means breathing in, breathing out and concentrating on being the spark of life flowing through the body. For women it seems to be even more important than for men: in the body there is all the knowledge of life on this earthly plane. Therefore sexuality does not just mean physical relations. Sexuality becomes a root, a fundamental principle, connected with survival and the prospering of the physical world.
This is also the reason why the human body is important in her work with all its scratches and bruises because it has been touched by the world, with all its vulnerability in its nudity, certainly not as an object for the amusement and entertainment of anyone else.
These aspects are a constant in the work of Jana Brike and often go hand in hand with the symbolism of flying creature such as birds, butterflies and bees, the vast sky and the solid earth with its natural beauty in a combination of infinity and incalculable harmony.