Laisvydė Šalčiūtė

Paradise for Melusine, 2019

I am interested in storytelling in my art

The walls of the Palazzo Ducale witnessed many stories of people who have lived and created there. Valuable artworks what are stored in there hold historical, religious, and mythological storylines. The religion, mythology and art are bonded together. They tell us stories, talk about feelings and help us to understand the world as a whole.

In my work I strive to extend these stories by ironically reconsidering contemporary cultural and social contexts, “reconstructing” my relationship with the environment as if it were an intellectual adventure. I inscribe the visual quotes of old masterpieces, random images of contemporary reality and the fragments of poetic texts found in the internet in to my paintings by a paradox principle. The stories in my paintings are unfinished. They supposed to act like a provocative fragments where viewers could intuitively perceive various versions of stories as if they were co-authors.

I rely on the idea that our feelings are culturally formed – “learn”. Such feelings affect the intuition, the senses, and the experience of the individuals and influences our social activities.

In modern day-to-day life, we are constantly surrounded by the flow of digital information and images, what “tells fairy tales for us” – turning events into spectacles that lead to confusion, endless dispersion opportunities, and some emotional confusion. Slowness to modern human has become a luxury.

My choice of the artworks media for the exhibition in Museo Palazzo Ducale is not accidental – the media I use, is time-consuming and required hard handwork and patience. The works I‘ve created by thinking about this particular exposition talk about emotions. They are (auto) ironic. Body is needed for the feelings. That’s why I used my own hands as a tool to create, because they are closely related to the brain, where the feelings lie. I engraved the wood by hands, because the tree also has a body that has feelings, the tree has a story – it grows, it blooms, a lot of things happening around the tree doesn’t matter where it grows, then somebody cuts it. I kind of extend his story further by engraving it and after painting on canvas new stories about the feelings of modern people.

My fictional antihero, which I called Melusine (she is portrayed as a woman with an aureola (Nimbus), radiant eyes and breasts. Engl. Melusine. I borrowed that name from the French legend) is the main character in the series of works “Paradise for Melusine”. Ironically and at the same time metaphorically Melusine is telling contemporary “myths” in my works. These “myths” are about today’s confrontation between the individual and society, about the playful, emotional and tragicomic mysteries of the society of our time.

Explanation: The appearance of the Melusine image in my works was determined by the “spirit photography” – rather popular and provocative phenomenon of the photography emergence of photography technology. French physician and parapsychologist Hyppolite Baraduc (1850–1909) tried to photograph human ectoplasm, aura or something like that. In other words, in the expression of the human body, he tried to detect and capture by camera the mysterious manifestations of the human soul. At the end of the XIX century – beginning of the XX century people were interested in the sessions of Spiritism, souls, ectoplasm. Such shrewd photographers as William Mumler, Frederick Hudson, Édouard Isidore Buguet appeared, who forged their photographs with mysterious images of spirits with radiant eyes, Nymbus etc. by awakening the curiosity of society.

Paradise for Melusine, 2019