“Magical realism fits best, but I don’t want it to become a banner under which I work and which withholds me from exploring beyond it and further.”
An Artistic Path Shaped by Latvia
Jana Brike was born and raised in the culturally rich and complex landscape of Latvia. This small Northeastern European nation, steeped in a unique blend of pre-Christian spirituality and remnants of Soviet occupation, had a significant influence on the molding of Brike’s distinctive perspective. Her formative education was an intriguing tapestry, woven from the threads of Soviet propaganda and a rigid, materialistic scientific worldview imparted by the school system. This was interlaced with mystical tales filled with anti-communist sentiment and deep religious undertones from her grandmother, further enriched by another grandmother’s pragmatic wisdom about nature, herbs, and ancient tribal life views.
Despite the evolving world around her and the many transitions in her own life, Brike has always maintained a strong connection to her inner child. This part of her constantly seeks beauty, magic, and a level of creativity that extends far beyond conventional boundaries.
From an early age, Brike was certain that her life path would traverse the realms of culture and creativity. Choosing to become a painter seemed almost instinctive for this reserved artist who cherishes solitude and finds the balance between introspective studio time and occasional social engagements at art events.
Brike’s formal training began at the tender age of 10 in a highly academic professional art school. This marked the start of a 15-year educational journey, culminating in a Master’s degree in oil painting from the Art Academy of Latvia. Her formidable artistic talent was shaped through countless hours of painting practice, dedicating herself day after day to the craft she loves.
Jana Brike: The Allure of Oil Paint and Beyond
Presently, Jana Brike’s creative endeavors predominantly find their manifestation in oil painting. Her artistic journey is marked by diverse forays into digital art, animations, sculptures, and installations. However, she invariably finds herself returning to the traditional medium of oil paint, an area of study she pursued in the Academy. The allure for Brike lies in the intriguing dichotomy of juxtaposing this time-honored medium against contemporary themes and motifs, a thematic exploration she has been deeply engaged in to date. Periodic ventures beyond her comfort zone are integral to her process, implying that her artistic evolution might see new mediums and methods in the future.
The act of classifying artistic styles is often left to historians, researchers, and art critics. For Brike, imposing a label or a restrictive frame onto her creative process poses a significant limitation. While her current work may resonate with elements of magical realism, she resists adopting it as a definitive banner, favoring an open-ended exploration over confinement within a single genre.
Brike’s creative process is deeply personal, functioning as a visual autobiography that candidly depicts her life’s multifaceted experiences. She explores a broad spectrum of emotions, from life’s trials and tribulations to the transcendence of suffering, encapsulating the stages of human existence from birth to death, and everything in between. Her work reflects her experiences of love, loss, the celebration of life’s beauty, and the inevitable pain of growth.
The inherently intangible nature of human experiences such as love or death necessitates the creation of an allegorical language, comprising personal symbols of universal relevance. It is through this unique language that Brike communicates her lived experiences, imbuing her artworks with depth and resonance that touch audiences on a profound level.
The Unlabelled Exploration of Creativity
Jana Brike demonstrates a remarkable adaptability in her work setting, easily navigating compact spaces and varied distractions. Her rigorous academic study, commencing at an early age, set the foundation for this ability. For more than a decade, Brike’s canvas was nestled amidst the hustle and bustle of public spaces, bereft of privacy. This environment conditioned her to shift her cognitive processes, allowing her to find a unique wavelength untouched by external noise. As a result, Brike’s necessities are minimal, extending only to the fundamental art materials required for her work.
Yet, Brike has a fondness for certain non-essential items that foster a sense of grounding and presence during her artistic process. These include the simple acts of burning aromatic herbs in her studio, occasionally lighting a candle, or enjoying the view of nature from a large studio window. Brike also seeks solace in the background noise of music or audiobooks, particularly during meticulous hours spent painting intricate details.
Regarding her artistic influences, Brike asserts that the maturation of an artist coincides with a gradual shedding of direct influences. Presently, she identifies life itself as her most significant influence. The subtle nuances of everyday experiences often trigger profound revelations, fueling her creative inspiration for subsequent years. An innocuous phrase in a film, a relatable character in a book, a meaningful conversation with a friend, or even the fleeting beauty of a sunset casting light on forest clouds, can serve as a catalyst for Brike’s next body of work.
Jana Brike: The Intangible Language of Art
Each painting in Jana Brike’s collection carries a distinctive significance, a quality that fundamentally informs her decision to present it to the public. Brike is not one to cultivate favorites among her artworks, however, she acknowledges certain pieces as pivotal landmarks and transformative junctures in her artistic journey. For instance, the 2015 piece, “Gardener and the Centre of the Universe”, served as a stepping stone, ushering her into fresh creative territories.
There are, on the other hand, works that represent the culmination of a specific emotional or conceptual exploration for the artist. In this context, the “Sea of Change” series stands out. This ambitious project, consisting of eight panels, together spanning an impressive 1.8 meters in height and 18 meters in width, demonstrates Brike’s capacity for grand, intricate compositions. It traces the journey of female archetypes through various stages of life – infancy, childhood, adolescence, pregnancy, maturity, and old age – enveloped by a tumultuous sea and power animals that symbolize inner strength and fluctuating emotional states. This series can be interpreted as Brike’s personal tribute to womanhood, an artistic representation of her individual connection with this theme.
Brike’s future endeavors often start as dreams yearning for manifestation. Those that have developed into clearer, more detailed visions are already on their way to becoming tangible works of art. Some aspirations remain nebulous, akin to explorative paths she yearns to tread or novel techniques she wishes to experiment with. The artist believes that, given enough time and introspection, these budding ideas have the potential to survive further scrutiny and ultimately reach fruition.