As part of our Artist Insights collection, this week we’re interviewing Brighton artist Elija Grybe. They are part of the art collective ‘4 in Farm Mews 5’ who are exhibiting at the Brighton Fringe.
TW: Paintings Depicting Violence
How has living in Brighton impacted or complemented your artistic practice?
“I first came to Brighton to do my BA in Fine Art Painting, but the biggest impact for me was the people I met in Brighton. I was introduced to the amazing community here. Also I was able to build relationships with other artists and friends, collaborate, participate in workshops. So many people were keen to share their knowledge and experiences, which has been very supportive and helpful. Also, it has been almost two years since I’ve been sharing a studio in Brighton with other artists. Together with three current studio mates we formed a collective called ‘4 in Farm Mews 5’. The space itself and the collective has been a big influence, especially during Covid. I don’t know how this past year would have gone, if I didn’t have this cold and wet space to go to.”
How would you describe your artistic practice?
“With my paintings I have conversations about human body and violence in the Digital age. I use photographs of MMA fights and wrestling matches as reference images, because I find something so odd, but at the same time empowering about performed brutality. It opens conversations about bodily strength, gender identity, masculinity, and ability to control one’s own body. Depicting violent images in my paintings helped me confront triggering imagery directly and reduce the everyday effects of abuse trauma. It has been a way to overcome fear and start a conversation about difficult experiences from a place of empowerment.”
How has your work changed over the past year?
“At the beginning of the pandemic, I almost completely stopped painting, because my work as a carer took over everything. It was the first time when care work stopped being just a side hustle for my art practice. It felt like I was a carer first and only then a painter. So, when I eventually started painting again, I kept trying to implement themes from my workplace and the medical field to my paintings, but it was a difficult process, constant struggling and experimenting. It has been hard to use art practice to express and communicate what is happening around us this year, but it feels necessary.”
What is your favourite accomplishment over the last year?
“The accomplishment I was most excited about last year was participating in the Baltic States painting event ‘XII Young Painters Prize’. Because it was the first exhibition I participated in, which took place in my home country Lithuania after I left almost five years ago. I have not been back there for a long time. Especially during Covid, it has been scary and almost impossible to go back. So, even though I was not able to physically go back to the country, at least I could be a part of an event that took place there from a distance.”
What projects are you currently working on currently?
“I am trying to keep painting, keep pushing my work, the themes, the images. With my collective ‘4 in Farm Mews 5’ we have an exhibition at the Brighton Fringe. The show is called ‘In the Void: A Year of Producing Art in Isolation’ and it will take place in the Lock In gallery. The project will reflect our work during the pandemic, when we shared the same space, but were never able to physically meet each other. Although the work around us kept changing, but it felt like we were alone in the space.”
What are you most excited for in the future?
“This year has been so hard. Many of us have been going through incredibly difficult experiences, therefore I find it hard to look for the bright side, it’s not easy to be excited for the future. But I am looking forward to hearing and seeing people share their experiences and be able connect and see each other in the same physical spaces again.”
Where can we see Elija’s work now?
Follow Elija’s Instagram to see their works & keep your eyes peeled for their exhibition at Lock In Gallery in Hove. Also follow their studio collective ‘4 in Farm Mews 5‘. We love to have artists like Elija in the studio which is back open finally. Are you a Brighton Artist? Please get in touch with us and let us know what projects you’re up to. Many fine artists use our studios to photograph, create & explore their work.
For tickets to their show, click here
Our studios are now open! We will be changing our policies along with the Covid-19 Government Guidelines. We will be looking to lift the restrictions to normal studio capacity by 21 June (if the data permits this).
Our booking system is currently open. As always, if you have any questions please get in touch.