On 10 October, Vilnius-based Meno Niša Gallery launches the second solo exhibition by sculptor Matas Janušonis, titled “Backyard”. The artist presents his new sculptural works which he uses to filter mass-consumption images, transforming them until they acquire a shape that fits to be placed in the artist’s backyard.
Matas Janušonis is currently doing his Master’s degree in sculpture at the Vilnius Academy of Arts. His works have been presented at ArtVilnius, Positions Berlin, viennacontemporary, and YIA art fairs in Brussels and Paris; they are also in the collections of the Lewben Art Foundation and MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow. Matas Janušonis’ audio installation “Gate” is the winner of the audience award at the exhibition of the Contemporary Art Centre for the CDecaux Prize 2018.
Pending the launch of his new exhibition at Meno Niša, the young artist shares his thoughts about the creative process and new artworks.
What works will be exhibited at Meno Niša?
The exhibition “Backyard” will present four sculptural works which I created this year. Some of the pieces are specially designated for this exhibition, while others were created earlier and found their access to the exhibition.
“Backyard” is mainly a state where feelings, memories and visions find their order and place. Here you can feel calm and arrange things however you want, unrestrictedly and without being distracted. This is in contrast to the front yard, which is representative and visible to everyone, where it usually matters how you look from the outside.
My works are the intertwining of representational and kitsch decorative elements, images in general, and my formal commentaries about them. As if I am filtering mass images and transforming them until they acquire a shape that would fit to be placed in my backyard. You look at how it fits in with other things already in the yard and sense some sort of interface, continuity.
The exhibition reveals two poles: it is like front and back, open and closed, insiders and outsiders. Architecturally, the duality is also resonated in objects in space: two halls, one of which is further divided into two equal triangles. They are similar in their area, but one is as if inaccessible…
You mainly use massive materials for your sculptures, such as cast iron, concrete. Is it easy for you to work with these materials?
Compared to other sculpting materials that are easier to use, cast iron and concrete are rather hard to work with. Yet, all technological processes can be implemented with the knowledge of technology and in consultation with more experienced colleagues.
How does your creative and technical process go?
My creative and technical processes can go independently of one another, but sometimes they are connected. The possibilities of creating are often dictated by technical aspects. They are like frames that I use as a basis to develop my work. And sometimes I just come up with something that is interesting for me and force the technology to become capable of making the piece I want. I work as long as it takes to reach this goal. But often I give in and find a compromise between my idea and what is possible in terms of the materials.
Last year your audio installation “Gates” won the audience award of the JCDecaux Prize. Your vinyl records art installation was presented at the exhibition Gurrgutis. Why are you interested in sound?
At first, I got interested in visuals that symbolise sound. I was also looking for ways to represent the sound itself in sculpture, using sound indirectly, with more symbolism and shapes for sound. I wanted to try those methods to talk about the very physical phenomenon of sound, which has no volume and cannot be touched or seen. I got hooked on the idea of simply imaging sound.
But sound doesn’t interest me as much as does music or music in sculpture. I don’t want to make music because I’m a sculptor, not a musician. I’m interested in the very fundamental word sound, vibrations, waves. I’m interested in how sound can come into my own creative work.
Sometimes I create sound shapes, but they do not produce any sound. Sometimes I create shapes that make sounds, but they say more about other things. Sometimes I even use sound that is created and recorded on a medium, as in the installation “Gates” presented for the JCDecaux Prize. In that work, by using records to depict the work of a human heart, I raise the important question of why there is no heart left in contemporary art and how important it is to bring it back.
You started participating in the Takas sculpture exhibition of ArtVilnius while being a student. You also tested yourself in the context of European art fairs. Your artworks were presented by Meno Niša at international art fairs, such as viennacontemporary, YIA (in Brussels and Paris). This is a really big achievement for a young artist. How did your road to fairs begin?
I started participating in art fairs because, although I had many pieces created, they didn’t seem enough for a solo exhibition. For me, all works seem to be good, but one is stronger than another. I found ArtVilnius to be a good place for me because only one work has to be presented at the fair’s annual sculpture exhibition Takas. I thought that was exactly the number of works I could create: one good piece a year. I was lucky that exhibition curators accepted them.
Later I started cooperating with Meno Niša Gallery, which has been presenting me at foreign art fairs for several years. I am glad about internationalisation that really helps the artist’s career. It was at viennacontemporary where my work was noticed and purchased by the MOCAK Museum in Poland, and this year’s works showcased at ArtVilnius complemented the collection of the Lewben Art Foundation.
The latest exhibition by Matas Janušonis, “Backyard”, is part of the Gallery’s project Art Space for Young Artists. It is an ongoing art project launched in 2011, covering young artists’ exhibition cycles and promoting their initiatives and continuity of artistic ideas.
The opening of the exhibition is on 10 October, at 6 p.m. The “Backyard” is open until 31 October. Meno Niša opening hours: Tuesday – Friday 12 noon – 6 p.m., Saturday 12 noon – 4 p.m. Entry is free for all visitors.