Eglusha, from her full name Egle Simkute, is a Lithuanian artist, born in Kelmė, February 26th 1990. She grew up in Lithuania and early on developed a great curiosity and an overflowing imagination.
Her family left Lithuania in 1999 to settle in Toulouse, France. She turned her hand to hairdressing and at the age of 23, opened her own salon in the heart of the city, a salon that quickly became very popular. A dazzling entrepreneurial success. In parallel, Eglusha decided to take on other challenges, that of her passion, illustration.
The illustrations of Eglusha, relate to different portraits, different singular figures. They reveal various artistic influences, strongly questioning the place of the body, the place of the "character" in the narration, as well as the relationship of the protagonist anchored in an eclectic space.
Acidic colours, flat velvety areas, gridlines, bold dark lines, the Memphis touch is obvious: this artistic trend of the 80's is predominant in the work of Eglusha. We find an aftertaste à la Nathalie Pasquier, an emblematic character from Memphis, from the palette, to patterns and the borrowing of pictorial codes of decorative art. Swatches of garish colours, bright, vivid, striking, gaudy. The unexpected choice of energetic colours references the legacy of the Memphis artistic movement. Eglusha offers a unique interpretation and pictorial identity.
Q. Tell us about yourself and how you came to be an artist…
A. I was born on February 26, 1990 in Lithuania, to a Russian mother and a Lithuanian father. My father organized rock and motorcycle festivals and our mother took care of us. We lived in the forest near a lake and owned a nightclub.
We arrived in Toulouse, France in 1999, I have been living there since. I have had a normal school career, despite the difficulties of the language. I drew a lot and took pictures, I was often absorbed in reading and my inner world.
Q. Describe your work in three words…
A. Color, Contrast, Paradox
Q. When do you make your best work?
A. I love working in the morning, the energy is so new, moreover I am inspired by many of my dreams. I do indeed have a very restless sleep, in the morning I can take out all these images more easily. The evening is a more favourable time for the material, the painting I feel more calm.
Q. What influences do traditional cultures have on your work?
A. I need to feed on many images, many sounds and sensations. I am very sensitive to what surrounds me, people's moods, the changing seasons and events in our society. I like artists who don't hide behind an image like Robert Crumb or Miriam Cahn. I am very influenced by the imagery of pop culture, the blatant colours and the kitsch.
The figures, the bodies are placed in a zone, delimited by the opacity of the colour and / or delimited by an organized space. This organized space can be surrounded by accompanying elements, or "decorators". The protagonists seem to be lost or on the contrary, be at one with this space.
The bodies are stylized, fragmented, brutalized, dehumanized, they resemble fantastic creatures, monstrous creatures ... Eglusha establishes a territory of "deformed"; mixed bodies, bodies that are disproportionate, hypertrophied, atrophied. They are hybrids, half man half animal, half egg half face, half cat half blonde ... Heroic, anti-heroic hybrids, allegories of thoughts, pieces of life, pieces of Eglusha.
These recurrent mutants conceivably refer to creatures from the artist's personal mythology. Seemingly tracing a kind of continuity through the illustrations. A certain logic that belongs only to the artist and that holds its own truth. The redundant image of the female figure is striking, does it refer to the femininity of Eglusha and / or to an absolute search for feminine femininity?
Feminine, masculine too ... Eglusha plays with the controversial concept of gender. It is almost so obvious that it invites us to go beyond the concept itself. The presence of the figures is radical, they are legitimate and stripped of the stereotyped appearances encompassing “a gender”. The sequence of illustrations marks a desire to inscribe a perpetuity, a constant continuity, possibly reaching for a narrative. A story sliced, a melee with enigmatic angular twists and gripping intrigue.
Q. Silence or sound while creating? If sound, what?
A. In music, always. It's essential, Nils Fraham, Leonard Cohen, Molly Nilsson, Anika or Nick Cave are the ones I'm listening to right now. Often I loop around until I run out of Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart".
Q. Artist whose career you covet?
A. Today I have only one dream, that of creating and dedicating myself completely to it, body and soul. Otherwise I love Marina Abramovic's journey, she means a lot to me.
Q. What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?
A. I would like to travel, be useful and get involved. I would like my art to be useful for something, to meet people and share.
Q. If you could travel anywhere to create for a while, where would you go?
A. I recently won a competition, the art Canister competition, so I will be going on an artist residency for 1 month, in the Philippines, I am very happy about it. Otherwise I think of Japan, Cuba, there are so many places I would like to visit.
Q. If you could have a drink with one artist, who would it be?
A. I think I would have loved to discuss picture with Ren Hang, but it's going to be complicated haha. Well, if Marina Abramovic is available, I can find her a moment.
Q. What messages or emotions do you hope to convey to your audience?
A. I hope to make people think about their behaviour towards the planet, their tolerance and their ability to accept others for who they are. I am for the real, the authentic, even if it is not always easy to assume or to look at.
The characters gather, assemble, isolate themselves? Do they really resonate with each other? The illustrations have an echo of Tarot cards, a popular and mystical game. Tarot cards represent a veritable coded iconography that can sum up, and be reminiscent of the pictorial treatment of illustrations.
The purpose of interpreting the cards was not to read the future but to guide the consultant and reveal their interiority in the present and near future, would these illustrations not be the cards of Eglusha's sense of self?
Is that what she's living, what she’s feeling? Is this a new form of what is commonly termed a "personal diary"? Would such intimacy be at the heart of her work?
Hairstyles of all kinds, multiple eyes, characteristic elements of the body which accumulate. One could almost find a certain fetishism in the vein of "Tom Wesselmaan" inhabiting these illustrations.
Returning to the theme of gender, Eglusha seems to establish a frontier between the glorification of the so-called "feminine" elements and the regard of woman as objects, the objectification of her body, not necessarily a slave but always dominated.
Eglusha does not settle on subjects, but she subtly evokes different themes such as danger, casualness, boredom, love, solitude ... highlighted by sometimes ambiguous titles. She sprinkles, with equilibrium, her illustrations with humour and trash.
The original impulse that emerges from Eglusha's work is irrevocably pop, kitsch, pure, disconcerting, serious, enigmatic and hypnotic. The unconscious is the raw material of the artist, she makes it her ally, her tool of predilection.
Eglusha unveils a very personal practice that imposes her own proper graphic language, with post-punk musical tones, with an erudite acidic pink candy taste. She is the modern woman who must resemble an ideal but who fights against codes (alcohol, drag-queen shoes, big car ...).
It’s an ambiguous social satire between the ideal of feminine beauty and the refusal of conformism.
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