Alge Julija Kavaliauskaite explores the essence of reality

Printmaker Alge Julija Kavaliauskaite makes art out of rubbish, fruit packaging and toilet brushes.

When I was 10 years old, I realised that I could see three-dimensional things around me, but I couldn’t reproduce them on paper. I couldn’t stand it. I said to my mom that I can’t live like this, so I was entered into a good art school. When I drew a three-dimensional cube for the first time, it felt incredible, like a miracle.

I continued my studies in different art schools in Vilnius. In 2011, I applied to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki, because my teacher Egle Vertelkaite said it’s the best place to study printmaking. And it’s true. You can’t find this kind of freedom and encouragement elsewhere.

I’m still fascinated by three-dimensionality, as well as patterns, texture, colours, shapes and their limitless possibilities. Take the numbers 1 and 2, for example, and the countless ways they can be described: theoretically, three-dimensionally, mathematically, linguistically, and musically. When I look at things and items long enough, I start seeing their inner core, patterns and the way they’re constructed. When I stare at the sea, I can see and start feeling its inner essence.

I have done printmaking for ten years now and it still spellbinds me constantly. When I tried it for the first time, they just handed over a copper plate and a nail in front of me and told me to draw. It was as if I was given a key that helped me open up a door to a whole new world.

Now I make art out of rubbish, out of whatever is scattered around me. I have copied spoons, rulers, blister packs of medicine, toilet brushes, plastic bags, fruit packaging and my hair in my art.

I definitely don’t draw my inspiration from art or art books. For me, the whole process of making art is about waiting: I don’t sketch or draw out plans. I live my life just like the next person, I read books, sometimes I drink to get drunk, I fall in love and break up. When I envision a finished work in my head, I turn it into reality.

Sometimes it confuses me when people say that they are able to create something. I myself can’t create anything per se, but I can take something that’s already done, mix it up and redo it in a different way, as if I’m cooking a soup from the same ingredients. There are no such things as inventions. Somebody who made the first bicycle just understood something that already existed.

I find the concept of table interesting as a phenomenon, and I have explored it in many of my works. I incorporated a table even in the work sample as a part of my application to the Academy of Fine Arts. The theme for the exhibition that I’m currently working on for Project Room is the same table, but it has a different shape and it’s three-dimensional instead of two-dimensional. The concept of table has been present throughout the history, in all homes and in all cultures. Everybody eats and sleeps.

The exhibition is still under preparation, and I don’t exactly know how it will turn out. It feels like I’m boiling and bubbling, I come up with new ideas all the time. I might even destroy some of the works, cut them into pieces and reassemble them into a new work. There’s no way of knowing what I’ll end up doing.

My life would be meaningless if I didn’t make art. It’s what I’m here for. It’s hard to get by as a young artist, and printmaking often costs more than what you finally earn from a finished artwork. But I believe that if I love something enough, I’ll find the way to pursue it.

Alge Julija Kavaliauskaite

  • 24 years old, lives in Nuutajärvi.
  • From Vilnius, Lithuania.
  • Has lived in Finland for five years.
  • Studies in the Master’s programme at the Academy of Fine Arts of the University of the Arts Helsinki in addition to studying glass at Tavastia Vocational College in Nuutajärvi.
  • Studied art also in an exchange programme in Jerusalem, Israel.
  • Has played classical piano and harp.
  • A series of her works from the MFA Degree Show Kuvan Kevät were placed on deposit in Kiasma with support from the Päivi and Paavo Lipponen Fund.
  • Collective exhibition with Antti Kytömäki and Pauli Tapiola in Project Room of the Academy of Fine Arts from 21 October to 6 November.

This article originally appeared in the University of the Arts Helsinki's IssueX magazine (2/2016). Text: Miia Vähähyyppä, photo: Väinö Teittinen


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