Lena Klyukina’s talent is simply benevolent. Her art gives and gives and gives without expecting much back. There is something very selfless about Lena – her art grabs your attention with the gentle assertiveness of a caring friend that is dedicated to guiding you through the chaos of life. Our most favorite thing about Lena is that although she is so generous with her gift she is not patronizing. There is no condescension is her work – if she wants to leave a portion of her drawing empty, she will, and if the paper is summoning for mind blowing detail, that is what will be created. Lena does not take on undue and unnecessary pressure. With her words, Lena comes across with same clear sense of freedom and magic that is richly evident in her surrealist drawings. Her spirit is very invigorating and Style.No.Chaser cannot get enough of this nuanced expressive beacon. See the interview below …
“If some space looks like it needs to be left blank and simple, I leave it like that and don‘t try …”
Please tell us a little about yourself – your childhood, siblings, where you grew up, what you liked as a child, strange thoughts as a child/now, unique attributes, where you live now, etc.?
I was born in Riga, Latvia, in 1989. My parents, my sister and I moved quite a bit from country to country when I was a little kid, but most of my life I‘ve lived in Lithuania. From an early age I felt that doing some tinkering or precision-requiring tasks was something I enjoyed enormously, so drawing as well came with an ease. I was crazy about video games and cartoons, and all those weird Russian fairytales. I consider Ivan Bilibin, who illustrated most of my favorite childhood tales, as one of my earliest artistic influences. You should google him; he is amazing and way ahead of his time. But it is only when I moved to Vilnius to study natural sciences that I began making visual art more intensely, it seemed to be the only way of expression that worked for me. It still is.
How do you describe your form of art and what tools do you primarily use?
Well, it is a form of surrealistic drawing. It is about putting things together that you wouldn‘t normally see together, it is all a mishmash of things and beings, pleasant and not so. I love the natural chaos and dirt and explosion of detail and texture, and I find graphite pencils, and sometimes markers, to be the most essential media to get into as much detail as technically possible. And sometimes I use some colored pencils or markers just to make an accent on something, as if it‘s some sort of guidance. Little of or absence of color somehow feels more intimate, more straight to the point to the origin of the idea behind it.
What does your art mean to you?
Something that keeps me sane. It fascinates me how art can transfer you to some other dimension instantly, how it speaks without saying a single word. I usually have no idea where my drawing themes come from, so I guess it is also a tool for self-discovery. While being in the midst of process I get a feeling it is that one thing that creates time for me instead of wasting it. That makes me feel most alive, as if I do what I truly should, you know.
What is your view/opinion on art world in general these days?
It‘s very double-sided, but mostly great. Technology and endless informational resources help people make more art faster, and therefore the technical aspect of quality may suffer. But as people become more liberated, and more socially and environmentally aware, conceptual is now the new artsy. If an artist has something to say, there will be an audience to listen. In the art world these days you can use any media you can think of in millions of different ways and the idea is the most valuable component.
Which artists do you look up to the most?
I‘m a huge fan of Kilian Eng (aka DW Design), and Scott Listfield, Tatsuya Erikawa, the shamanic Hannah Yata… T. Dylan Moore‘s drawings and sketches are absolutely fantastic, and Apollonia Saintclair‘s art is so, so juicy and gorgeous.
Your art is amazingly and extremely detailed and filled with rich human and animal aspects, what pulls you to the subject matter you choose?
Yes, I love detail, it makes it all more natural and chaotic, and it keeps me entertained, but I don‘t choose it. If I feel it has to be there, I do it. If some space looks like it needs to be left blank and simple, I leave it like that and don‘t try to artificially fill it with detail of any sort. It‘s some kind of inner radar of what feels right in that particular drawing. A rhythm, I don‘t know. And regarding human and animal aspects, it‘s probably a feeling I get about certain human beings or animals, it‘s about their character, their stance, their facial expression, the way they act in nature and their place in it and such. It is quite easy to associate an inner state or emotion with a character that embodies it.
What is the worst critique you have ever received about your work? What is the best compliment that you have received about your work?
A few years ago I illustrated a music album and as soon as it came out, there were many different opinions on the illustrations I made. Those were my first publicly released drawings, so I took it pretty close to the heart that time, but the musicians themselves were supportive and incredible, and I‘m thankful and love them to pieces. The best compliment was from a woman who sent me a poem she wrote a while ago, a true love story, very heartfelt. She said my drawing reminded her of those times and person in her life. I live for moments like this.
Do you ever experience deja vu – where are you usually transported to when it happens?
Sometimes when I have conversations, I think I‘ve already heard them before, and said the exactly same thing.
Since Style.No.Chaser is a men’s lifestyle magazine, what attributes/items/clothing /etc. do you think define a man?
I‘d say shoes say tons of stuff.
What is your personal life philosophy?
Oh geez. These kinds of questions make me cringe. Life is so many things, and I can‘t write short catchy statements about it, I‘m no Paulo Coelho. Maybe in the form of advice I‘ve described two things for myself years ago, which to me are things to do for a focused life – don‘t compare your life to someone else‘s, and don‘t take anything personally. Also, if you truly want to do something, you always find time to do it, even at your busiest. And if you post inspirational quotes on Facebook – fuck you.
What is your favorite color and why?
I like deep blood red, burgundy, and dark blue. Sophisticated, involving and with character. Recently I fell in love with yellow. I even noticed my clothing now has begun to adjust to this color palette.
Who dead or alive, celebrity or not, artist or not, would you like to go on a two week road trip with and why?
My boyfriend. He is all that, except for dead.
What type of music do you listen to (if at all) when working?
Music is one of the main reasons why I draw in the first place! I always listen to it when I draw, it is essential like breathing. It depends on what mood drives me, but I always enjoy industrial low-key electronic tunes by Nine Inch Nails, How To Destroy Angels, Depeche Mode. Marilyn Manson‘s latest albums are genius. I love The Cure, Siouxsie and The Banshees, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Led Zeppelin, The Doors… I love listening to concert records, and I play Spotify radio now and then. Sometimes a matching song is everything.
How can people learn more about (or buy) your current and upcoming works?
Follow me on Facebook, I post updates and process photos and articles and stuff, and sometimes I sell my original artwork there. Also there are prints and other nice stuff on Society6. And last, but not least – if you want to see the process of each of my drawings, please go to Behance, see you there!
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