Jana Brike (1980)
In 15 years of exhibiting, Jana Brike has participated in more than 95 group shows and international art fairs in Latvia, Russia, Europe and the USA but she has only had seven solo exhibitions; five of these were in 2010 and 2011 in Chicago and California (USA), Sigulda (Latvia) and now in Riga at the Maksla XO gallery. This shows that, since graduating from the Latvian Academy of Art in 2005, the young painter has consistently applied herself to perfecting her artistic style. Her participation for the last two years in The BLAB! Show exhibitions in Los Angeles and Seattle that were curated by book publisher Monte Beauchamp, is an indication of Jana Brike's brilliant debut on the international art scene.
Jana Brike belongs to that younger generation of artists whose common style may appear to be like that of many others to the non-specialist. However, among art critics and theoreticians, it has already been called the great new style - "cartoonism". This marks an historical period, an age that has common features in many spheres of art, formally reflecting the possibilities afforded by rapidly developing information technologies. In the last decade, these have been particularly noticeable in architecture, sculpture, painting, graphics and decorative applied art.
Like the masters of the early renaissance, Jana Brike creates her paintings layer by layer but using 21st century technology. She makes use of the synthetic properties of digital photography and 3D computer programmes as an instrument for her works. She combines these with a fine and precise drawing in graphite, coloured pencil, ballpoint pen, highlighter and brushwork painting using oil, tempera, gouache and spray paints. This is Jana Brike's toolbox of methods for capturing in the painting the final point of collision of contrasts in both the material and the image as artificial - natural, living - dead, beautiful - unpleasant, attractive - repellent and so on. Jana Brike uses these visual techniques to construct compositions and narrative scenarios, which she does not impose on the viewer but speaks about them discreetly in modestly sized and small paintings.
They are the heroes of the artist's fantasy, images from the imagination that may sometimes resembles characters from cartoon films or portraits of small children that tenderly and ironically flirt with the clichéd iconography we encounter in the contemporary media environment and consumer society. In Jana Brike's hypertrophied visual depictions, their mute gaze is directed somewhere over, outside but not directly at the viewer.
Ilze Zeivate, 2011.
"The portraits seen in my works do not represent any concrete person or situation. They are perhaps potential portraits of a person's experiences or feelings. They are not children I paint. They are metaphors. Metaphors for innocence, potential for growth, vulnerability, intuition. The faces I capture are emotionally estranged as if lost in meditation or a daydream with a gaze that is turned to an inner scene that is reflected outwards, in a white, empty landscape. Every "portrait" is connected to its own delicate emotion, mysterious symbolism and apparently secret story. It is as if the hero of every story (image) is being disturbed as they perform some action, ritual or meditation understood only by themselves." Jana Brike, 2011
Translation by Andris Mellakauls, 2011.