I put this article together while traveling in the deserts of Namibia in Southern Africa. Oddly, I found similarity between the anagama kiln fired work of Eglė, a Lithuanian artist, and the stark geology of Namibia. I have no reason to believe there is any direct connection. Eglė herself describes the origins and inspiration for her ceramic art as internally focused (“I explore the relationship between man’s inner and outer worlds”), and I clearly see such focus in the sculptural elements and intense colors in much of Eglė’s work. But there is definitely a correlation between Eglė’s anagama fired work and geologic features revealed in the deserts of this world. All of which illustrates that art may take on different dimensions based on context: where it is created and where it is viewed and appreciated.
JTW: What attracted you to ceramics? Did you explore other media and materials?
EE: Ceramics fascinate me with its versatility and wide inexhaustible technical features. I am pleased I can realise myself in this material. Ceramics taught me patience and consistency.
After graduation, I also tried to realise myself in other areas. I participated in various artistic projects that were not associated with ceramics. These were art symposia of outdoor wood sculptures and paper. Later I participated in painting residencies. And yet I went back to ceramics.
JTW: I think I see some very softened human forms in some pieces on your website. Did you study figure sculpture or work as a figurative sculptor?
EE: The fact that I am now moulding figurative sculptures was determined by a number of factors.
First, at the Academy of Fine Arts, I had an excellent lecturer – a sculptor who pushed me to choose a plastic art expression. The second factor that led to this is “historical”. I studied in a very difficult period from 1992 to 1998. Lithuania’s independence was just restored. The technical base of the Academy of Arts was quite poor. There was a lack of various materials for the production of ceramics. There was therefore no opportunity to work in the field of technology. The absence of a technical base encouraged students to work more in the ideological direction, encouraged them to think, look for concept and new forms. At that time, students of the Academy of Fine Arts created sculptures from non-traditional materials – rubbish, they sort of compensated for the lack of technical capabilities.
JTW: Can you tell me about your evolution as an artist? I think I see more figurative & geometric pieces in 2019, moving toward much more fluid, organic-type pieces in 2021.
EE: I am glad that new experiences and environments dictate new ideas and forms. It is very difficult for me to look back. In my work, I explore the relationship between man’s inner and outer worlds. I am interested in analysing people, capturing their different experiences. I wonder how the environment itself shapes a person, and what kind of experiences we gain.
In 2019, when I created a personal ‘Inside-Outside’, I thought a lot about the meaning of life. About inner distance and proximity. Interpersonal contact and alienation. About duality and separation, crucial to vices and virtues formulated by our personal character and experience. With ‘sculptures’ I sought to reveal man’s spiritual relationship, under the influence of the environment, the resulting egocentricity therefrom, the need for perpetuation, pride and the relentless desire to regain the internal structured order and peace.
For example, the inspiration for the exhibition ‘One Size’ created in 2019-2020 came from moulding small models from plasticine. I sort of compared a person to a piece of plasticine. Externally, they are only similar at the initial stage – until they lie in the box. All are smooth and neat, only the colour is different. It seemed to me that a person, like a plasticine, was very plastic, he could be easily deformed and damaged. He easily absorbs all the effects of the environment; reflects them. As Voltaire said: ‘The environment for man is all his fate.’ This raises the question: what would we be if planted in one or the other soil? Creation is a huge balance between idea, form, inner energy, environment and other things.
The work of 2020-2021 was influenced by the Pandemic situation, which dictated new forms and ideas. After the introduction of the quarantine, the world seemed to stop. That stop was a great opportunity to rethink and re-contemplate the surrounding things. This situation taught us to cherish what we have to, not to rush, to stop and to outlive every moment. New sculptures, I’d say, have taken on quite unexpected, unusual forms for my creation. In these works, we can see Baroque elements, which tell us about the crisis we experience and the instability and confusion of the situation. In these works, as much as possible in the ceramic material, I wanted to convey and capture every vibration, as if the image were deep underwater and the viewer could feel even the flowing current of water. This would be my response to the current situation: do not resist and accept the situation as it is. I have noticed myself that the shape of my sculptures changes greatly from the main aim and thought. If I start searching for a more complex form, the mind plunges into a second plan.
JTW: Much of your work has intense color, while other pieces have very subtle, pastel-like color. Can you tell me how you are exploring color in your work?
EE: My creative work is changing a bit. In the past, I may have chosen more subtle colours than I am now. It seems to me that colour has a big impact on the viewer. Sometimes I use even 100 % pigment. Not only the colour, but also the coating itself is very important to me.
In my work I avoid shiny surfaces that often destroy the shape. I cover the sculptures by spraying, so the slipware is very evenly covered and give the surface a beautiful velvet impression. Matte surfaces further highlight the silhouette and texture of the figure. I think the choice of colours is also influenced by the environment and the current mood. I think after this very colourful period I will want subtle or maybe white colours again.
JTW: There is another section of your website called “Anagama Firing?”. Can you tell me more about that process? Did you make these pieces at one point in time, or is this something that you continue to do across many years?
EE: I am very fascinated by the burning of an anagama kiln. An anagama kiln was built in Lithuania, where sculptures could be burned out. It is currently disassembled. The burning of anagama kiln is associated with holidays and rest. Perhaps because it is necessary to devote enough time to burning and not to worry, not to think about ‘colour’. Nature itself controls the surface of the sculpture; I will only need to ‘inflame it’. Very interesting and unpredictable result.
This is the exact opposite of the burning technology that I do normally. I usually burn sculptures in an electric furnace. I can do a lot of tests and expect to replicate the desired result. In anagama kiln, I can’t influence or affect the result. Burning the anagama kiln is a teamwork that requires a lot of knowledge, energy and concentration. This is a burning that I can’t control. The burnings of anagama kiln sort of educate me: they develop patience, make me obey, trust my colleagues.
JTW: Can you tell me about the creative community in Lithuania? Are there many ceramic artists there? Is there a deep tradition of ceramics?
EE: Is there a deep ceramics tradition? Lithuanian professional ceramics have been in existence for 90 years. In my opinion, Lithuania does not have deep traditions. In Lithuania, ceramic specialties can be acquired at Vilnius Academy of Arts and Kaunas. We have the Lithuanian Artists Association, which has about 90 ceramists. It organises ceramic art biennials, various thematic exhibitions. In Lithuania, international ceramic symposiums are organised at AIC Panevėžys Gallery, Kaunas ‘Bona China’ bone porcelain symposiums, contribute significantly to the promotion of ceramics. I am very happy that I have the opportunity to contribute to the organisation of the main Lithuanian exhibition ‘Vilnius Ceramic Biennial’. This year, we prepare the 7th Biennial. Together with our active classmates, we organise and tutor international exhibitions of ceramics small forms ‘Cup’. This idea was born to somehow move the community of ceramists. We chose such a simple, perhaps insignificant object. After a while, colleagues from neighbouring countries were very keen to join us. The project is completely altruistic and does not receive any funding.
JTW: What would you like people to know about you and your work?
EE: I am glad and thankful to God that I have the opportunity to create. I am very grateful that the creative beginning that was in me was always nurtured with the help of my parents and relatives. In the end, I wish the viewer, and I would also like to wish myself insight, to be able to see the surroundings, to manage not to lose the true meaning and essence.
You can see more of Eglė’s work on her website.
One thought on “Eglė Einikytė-Narkevičienė – Artist Profile”
I am very attracted to the curving, flowing, and organic nature of these forms. Interesting conceptual development and history to their form as well. I’d never heard of anagrams kilns, beautiful results.