An abstract painter’s personal philosophy and how she (dis)connects from the industry.
In the docuseries Pretend It’s a City, Martin Scorsese asks Fran Lebowitz the profound question, “In terms of our culture now, any of the art forms, which is the most wanting at this point?” To which Lebowitz sharply answers, “The visual arts—or what are called the visual arts.” She elaborates, “If you go to an auction and out comes the Picasso—dead silence; once the hammer comes down on the price—applause. We live in a world where they applaud the price but not the Picasso. I rest my case.”
Inspired by Lebowitz’s sentiment, we sit down with Hong Kong-based Lithuanian painter Gedvile Grace Bunikyte to discuss the art world, the system we live in, and spiritual consciousness.
Some say that the art world today is about money and not art itself. As an artist, what do you think art should be about?
There is not a one-answer-fits-all to what art is supposed to be. If it’s everything for everybody, then it’s nothing, right? I can only say what art is supposed to be from my universe and perspective. And for me, art is supposed to be a tool for healing, harmonising, and balancing your spirit; to elevate consciousness and energy.
Art is also a material thing, and inevitably, we use money to deal with materiality. But money is not inherently bad—it’s just our attachment to it that is unhealthy. We need to heal our relationship with money and redefine how we deal with material things and objects.
As an artist, do you think there is a way to be in the industry without being polluted?
Being in the art world, we’re part of a system, but it reflects back at us and who we are. But I think there’s a way to be in the world without being polluted.
I often joke about quitting the art world, and I do—but I resign from everything and life in general once a week. As a sovereign and independent being, it empowers me to create distance for introspecting and regain that self-containment. Then I come back with new knowledge. That’s what I meant by quitting the art world. I think it’s healthy. I periodically go through cycles of just completely shedding and purging and seeing what emerges after that.
What inspires you the most? How does your philosophy inform your work?
My best teacher is always nature, meditation, dreams, and intuition.
I make art by repeating these very minimal patterns to create these bodies and dimensions full of life. It’s never about any specific image in particular, but the essence of things—movements, spirits, plants—and the way it exists and vibrates and informs each other. I feel like all of my work is the same piece that wants to manifest itself in slightly different ways in different moments in time. To me, it’s about life and the connectivity and coherence of it all.
How do you want people to see when they look at your art?
I hope the one thing people get from my work is, “I don’t recognise these images, but it gives me this hope and wonder of creation, and these new worlds and possibilities are presenting themselves to me.” My work is about the expansion and contraction of the universe. Consciousness meeting matter. I hope it inspires contemplation and reminds us that we can think and feel and create things.
How do you achieve that with the patterns you make in your work? I noticed there are a lot of dots and lines and circles.
A dot is an infinite possibility of something to happen—you have a “point” in a space. And a line is a boundless direction towards something, but you put three or more lines together, and it becomes a triangle or a square—an area in which something exists.
The first geometric shape that a child makes is a circle. It’s in our DNA. It’s a divine shape. Everything is a circle and everything comes back to everything. We are in it, and we are it. You either know it, or you don’t, but either way—you are it.
A circle has no beginning. You’re either in the system and you’re not conscious of what you’re doing, or you are conscious and you try to change things for the better.
Exactly! In a more esoteric way… How do we deal with the energies surrounding us? It’s all part of us. If you really tune into yourself and see how you feel, there are emotional, physical, and energetic ways of being.
In what ways do you think art can elevate consciousness?
It’s about really letting yourself feel the vibration and movement of it. “I like it, I don’t like it, it’s good, it’s bad…” But what does it feel like? Where in your body is it? How are you vibrating in front of this thing? Who are you in front of this thing? What is it doing to you? That kind of sensory…psychosomatic interpretation of life. It’s about a deeper, more authentic way of experiencing reality.