Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
VF: I was born in Lithuania but have lived in the UK for the past 20 years. I make primarily figurative paintings depicting glamorous hellscapes taking influence from horror narratives in contemporary media and storytelling from my Baltic heritage.
CE: What does a day in your studio look like?
I get into my studio in South Bermondsey most days around 12:30 pm, with already made plans of what I will do for the day. I tend to work intensely with little breaks as my commute to the studio is rather long. I usually spend about 5 hours a day painting and do admin work and painting planning either in bed or a wework.
Born in Lithuania but having grown up in Gravesend in England, to what extent and how does this cultural duality effect your understanding the world, and your work?
It was a place I really did not enjoy living in, and is a place I spent most of my youth dreaming about escaping from. Just a bleak place with nothing going on, just like its own name suggests. I don’t remember much of my life in Lithuania but all I knew in Gravesend was that I was Lithuanian and my accent and name made me different/was difficult to pronounce. Many of my teen years were wasted doing absolutely nothing apart from painting alone in my room or scrolling through tumblr. I was definitely a late bloomer in regards to my social skills and would have crippling anxiety being in crowds or places where I had to interact with strangers. Luckily this is no longer the case, but it was a long process to get over. I think growing up in Gravesend has affected me in a way where now living in London I refuse to have an empty calendar and my days are constantly filled to the brim, whether with work or social activities, there’s an ongoing joke in my social circles that I always have ‘a dinner to go to’. Saying all this however, if I didn’t grow up in this environment I’m not sure if I would have taken up such an intense interest in painting, I definitely wouldn’t have put it on so many hours if I wasn’t so isolated.
One of the most recognisable elements of your work is the relentless use of the colour green. Not just any green, but a very specific uranium green tone, often associated with toxicity, slime, and decay. What's the role of this specific colour in your oeuvre?
It can be a bit of a difficult colour to stomach and place. I know that many people associate the green in my paintings as mentioned with toxicity and slime, and this is something that I am conscious about and explore. In particular with its association with nuclear waste, the colour of KGB prison walls and metal rust. I also do find this colour rather romantic, in particular in association to Wong Kar-Wai’s films and the cinematographer Christopher Doyle’s green hues.
Your paintings are populated by recurring characters and motifs; beauty pageant contestants, pickles, contemporary pop culture characters - how do you see your ongoing narrative? Do these phantasmagories exist in the same universe, or are they all separate entities?
I see all my body of work to date as an ongoing narrative in the same universe. Each exhibition is like a different episode in the same long running tv series with recurring characters and guest stars.
You also tend to subtly experiment with your surface matter. In your recent works there are cut / torn elements that are then positioned together for the final composition. Can you tell us a bit about what this process lends to your works?
During the start of the Covid lockdowns it was pretty difficult to get canvas ordered and I really wanted to paint, so I started hand sewing together any scraps that I could find. It was out of pure necessity to be able to create rather than a conscious aesthetic decision. I found this way of making up a canvas really playful and since then have been experimenting with sewing working zips and a variety of stitches to add 3D textures to the paintings.
Can you share with us some examples of artists, movements or any other reference points that serve as your inspiration for your work?
To be frankly honest, I don’t look at much ‘fine art’ for inspiration. I pull a lot of my references from films, in particular Korean revenge cinema and horror video games such as Silent Hill and Resident Evil. I also collect imagery through old family Soviet photos, reddit forums, youtube game playthroughs and DALLE 2 - basically anything I can get my hands on that I think will help in creating the visuals for the narratives that I want for
each particular show.
What’s next in the pipeline?
I have my biggest solo to date coming up this summer that I’m super excited about that is yet to be announced. I am currently toying with the idea of only making black and white paintings post this show for the rest of the year. I think restricting my colour palette options will be useful for pushing compositions further and not solely relying on my go to greens for the stroy arc.