Sometimes We Have to Learn How to Think as Creative As a Child

Indre Svirplyte

Originally from Lithuania, the young Indre Svirplyte (born in 1992) is currently employing her artistic lifestyle at Luca School of Arts Ghent, Belgium. She discovered Belgium by visiting a friend who was on an exchange program and decided to go study there herself. It simply felt like the right thing to do at that specific time. This is exactly how her artistic development so far has been going on. It simply needs to feel right, everything at the right time.

When she went to Belgium, Indre already had a very organic factuality. In Lithuania, Indre started with an education in graphic design at the Vilnius Academy of Arts. While doing an internship (graphic design studio hellofarm in 2015) she was made aware of her talents in illustration. This was her next step. Illustration fulfilled her need for a more personal approach with materials.

By using textile, Indre experiences a greater freedom where she can have a more personal relationship towards her work.

By searching for her own place in the field of illustration, Indre stumbled upon textiles by a mere coincidence. By finding small fabric strings for latch-hooking on a flea market, a whole passion for textiles grew. It was another eye-opening moment for her that signified it was the right time to broaden her artistic practice as a visual artist. Currently doing her master’s degree in visual arts, her work consists of tapestries and illustrations. Her work does not only get recognized in Belgium, but also in Lithuania and internationally through Instagram.

By using textile, Indre experiences a greater freedom where she can have a more personal relationship towards her work. This urge was not fulfilled by graphic design and only partly by illustration. She experiences this creative discipline of textiles as freedom. Besides that, this field is already very well known to her. Indre’s grandmothers were tailors, her mother did it as a creative practice. Indre gave it her own personal touch by integrating her family history within her artistic practice.

Because of her own search and development in textiles, Indre has a particular approach to her textiles. By researching the latch-hook technique, she stumbled upon tufting. She is one of the first people in Ghent’s art scene to use this tufting technique. Only a few, like Vera Vermeersch - known for her tapestry work and contributions to more famous artists - , are known for using this method.

By practising her own art vision, Indre is already affecting others. Her work and technique didn’t go unnoticed. The school, students and formal art students of Luca Ghent noticed a new approach to textiles in Indre’s work. The new technique opens another dimension to her visual art. The freedom of mechanically painting coloured fabric onto her canvas and the high dimension of tactility, brings her work to another level. This new vision on textiles inspires others to invest in the technique that Indre made her own. There is a high possibility we will see more of the tufting-technique by other art practices of upcoming artist of Ghent.

The textile works are looked upon as the logical extention of her illustrative work. Indre thinks of her illustrations and textiles as equals. While the main focus currently is discovering the new media of textile, this does not mean her illustrative work has no significance is her art practice. The textiles are illustrations on a different medium in her eyes. The creation of a work has a very organic feeling in the sense that it simply manifests in the way it comes around. One time an illustration will provide the picture for the textile. Another time she lets her artistic mind loose on the fabric and lets the work develop freely as a self-creating process. The basic rule is to have a playful approach to her work. From playing with coincidences, to creating a colour scheme no one would have thought of. Especially this colour scheme may be one of the first things that attracts someone into to artworks and urges them to give it a second look. But what are you exactly looking at? This green sun looking down on me, or this hybrid creature over there wearing high heels?

The artwork reaches out, it speaks to you in the abstract form of a conversation. It invites you to take a place in the work itself, to get absorbed.

These colourfields combined, form her own imaginary world. A dreamworld. Indre makes her self-made dreamworld visible by making her art. She creates a complete visual set of time and space where she asks herself what would be living there. It’s a search for an honest world where you, as a viewer, can have a place too. Indre focusses on the term conversation. She imagines for herself the creatures having a conversation between themselves. The viewer can, in the first place, recognize a dialogue in the work itself. Further, the work has a conversation with the viewer himself. In other words, the artwork reaches out, it speaks to you in the abstract form of a conversation. It invites you to take a place in the work itself, to get absorbed. To take a part in this world. It is not important, even for Indre herself, that the viewer sees the original meaning of Indre herself. It’s about getting involved with a dynamic sphere within the work itself. A connection between the viewer and the artwork.

One of the main aspects the artist recognizes in her own work, is the element of a sun. It’s a visual concept that reoccurs in a lot of her work, almost all her bigger work has one. Mainly because these bigger works themselves depict a world more clearly than the smaller ones. By coincidence it was a big green sun that drew my attention the whole time. This green sun contrasting quite harshly with the surrounding colours, was so prominent to the eye. While being such a harsh colour on its own, almost screaming along the other colours, it simultaneously exudes a sense of calmness. These strange looking eyes looking down on me, completed with a smirk you couldn’t get a hold on, are what give her visual work so much power. Because, at the exact same time as it was screaming, this green sun over there was so relaxing. It was simply there, being. The calm sphere of the work that is just hanging there, waiting. Accepting your own values as the beholder. At the same time is the work always open to receive you in its own world. The sun was something that gave me a relaxed sphere. This sun is exactly the visual representation of Indres vital energy as an artist.

Colour plays an important role in her visual work by expressing emotions.

When Indre told me, she also gets inspiration from Christian iconography, I couldn’t react in any possible way. For the simple fact that, I, didn’t see such a subject matter coming. Knowing her work for some years, I didn’t make a link to Christian iconography for once and this was not a problem at all for her. Indre believes that her work needs to be open for personal interpretation. It is in this sense her work has a high level of honesty. She depicts a non-existing world full of imagery where the core is showing this image in all the honesty it can get. A clear, transparent image like a blank space for the viewer to fill in. Her personal meaning is not a main focus to depict for the beholder. It’s the beholder who completes the work. For this kind of thinking, Indre drew inspiration from Keith Haring. Yes, Keith Haring. Not a visual connection you would make at first hand, but it isn’t Harings visual work an sich she is interested in. It’s the way Keith Haring deals with his images that is fascinating for her. This brutal act of simplicity and honesty. The rebellion of Keith Haring to make his art public, give everyone a clear picture that awakens your consciousness, the honesty of sensitive topics towards the people, towards you. It’s not that she herself wants to engage in an activist form of art, but this simple fact of honesty that can be shown in art got stuck in the back of her mind.

Colour plays an important role in her visual work by expressing emotions. This important experience where all the colours overwhelm you, is crucial to become aware of yourself. The way you yourself experience it. When receiving the work of art, it’s crucial for Indre that the beholders take place in front of the work to let their own capacities make an opinion. This crucial fact of experience is something Indre wants to take to the next level. For example, she wants to put different kind of textures in the work, so blind people can experience the artwork by touch. So it’s not just the visual colour fields, that are an important factor of the work, but the tactility of it too. It may be Harings influence of trying to show a picture suitable for all. It’s honesty towards the beholder, towards humanity itself.

This factor of touch raises a next question. Are people allowed to touch the work? This is something left to the beholder self. While Indre thinks touching her work is as important than looking at it, she is not going to force people to do so. She doesn’t want to display a sign with behavioural instructions. She’s fully open to the idea of people touching and even playing with the artworks. The idea of people gently brushing their fingers along the contours of the colour fields delights her.

It’s a complete experience you undergo by transcending into her imaginary world.

She simply depicts her own imaginary made-up world. Nothing more, nothing less. As honest as the image can be. It’s up to the beholder to interrelate to the artwork. The playful interaction you can have with the work by, for example, brushing your finger against the fields of colour, creates a conversation between you and the work. The work speaks to you through its own representation, and you reply.

All these forms of energy can be looked upon as the playfulness of Indre. As a visual artist she adopts to her work the same loose form of approaching things as she does in life. It has a resemblance to the playfulness of a child. This, more, honest approach towards things by not yet having determined the meaning of this phenomenon (read as ‘unclear thing’) in front of you. Going from depicting this green sun, to making a conversation possible. Who would have thought you can ‘communicate’ with a work by brushing the colours with your fingertips. In having this open view towards the many manifestations of life, Indre creates the honesty that is sensible in her work. She opens this world where you as the beholder can relearn how to look upon a phenomenon, a thing, as a child would do. And makes it possible to reconnect with the creative approach you may have had in your young years. You learn to revalue something as Indre does. I told her this and she agreed. Instead of seeing a small stone on the street without any meaning, you may as well use it to build a castle. It is the creative approach of a child’s thought process. As Indre said: art can just be fun. Her art invites you to colour outside the lines the next time, take a different approach.

It’s a complete experience you undergo by transcending into her imaginary world. After leaving yourself behind for a moment and taking place in this world itself, just for a minute, to come back with a more creative approach in life. It may take some people some time; however, do so. In this small moment of experiencing this world, by placing yourself there, distanced from yourself; you revalue yourself, to think as a child. Because this created world is not made for Indre herself. It is created for you. This unfolding world may be the most important value of her work.

This young talent doesn’t have a clear picture of the future. If you would have told her five years ago, she would have not believed to be making tapestries in Belgium by now. Likewise, she doesn’t have a clear picture of what she wants to achieve with her art. For now, Indre has a very humble view. When she makes three or five people happy trough her work, that’s good enough for herself.

Written by Jonathan Meersman