work by Martynas Jankus

Graduates 2021: Martynas Jankus: Fine Art Painting

“My time in Brighton has been a complete rollercoaster but I would not change a thing! I wanted to come here because my country is extremely homophobic, so I wanted to be in a space completely different from that.”

Hi Marty – please tell us a bit about your work and your influences

“My work explores my personal relationship with being looked at. I grew up in a post-Soviet country, where there was still a lot of trauma from the regime and people are still not very free in themselves, still indoctrinated by the Soviets through a long occupation. It is not okay to be different back where I came from, and I was always very much different, I was queer and feminine, always talking to myself and fighting my imaginary monsters, playing with dolls.

“People would always stare at me no matter where I went, it was frightening and made me paranoid, but I grew to rather enjoy the negative attention. It almost became political. I wanted to put the viewer in my shoes for a short period of time with my work, made people feel looked at. I started making eyeballs, painting them. I ran away from the looks and now call UK my home, but I weirdly miss being stared at, that is part of the reason I started this series.

“I am very much inspired by the memories of the old town of my city, where I would wander around avoiding the bus. I try to mimic the textures of it from memory but refuse to use the colours artists choose in my country, use a more “western” palette, because that is how I see myself. I am very interested in pareidolia, seeing faces everywhere, in the walls and wood and everywhere else. In terms of artists – I love Louise Bourgeois. Her work speaks to me on many different levels, she also reminds me of my grandma, who raised me.”

How have you found your course and time at Brighton?

“My time in Brighton has been a complete rollercoaster but I would not change a thing! I wanted to come here because my country is extremely homophobic, so I wanted to be in a space completely different from that. It was an interesting experience adapting to that, being able to explore my gender and sexuality without fear, it led me to a lot of good and bad things, but it was a great learning curve!

“The course was also a rollercoaster, I came into uni very sure of who I was as an artist, but found out I was not sure at all, and that sent me into a big existential crisis during the second year! But I overcame it and learned some very valuable lessons!”

How did you choose your course – why did you choose to study painting?

“I always knew I wanted to do something art related. At first it was theatre, but then I realized I had good hands and enjoyed making stuff. I started painting a year before I applied to the course and got completely obsessed with it. My uncle was a painter and a printmaker, a lot of my childhood memories are of him doing work and teaching me stuff.

“As many other queer people in my country, he took his own life, so for me being an artist was a way of connecting to him and almost continuing his legacy. Also, it was a thing I enjoyed most doing, so I decided to just dive into it and never really looked back since!”

What are your plans after graduation?

“I am hoping to continue working and exploring new ideas, hopefully getting into galleries, and having my stories seen and heard. I came to this country to find a home, and I feel like I did, and I am full of ambition! My biggest dream always was having my own private studio space (and getting into Royal Academy but that is for later in the future, hopefully) so I am planning on following my dreams!”

Follow Martynas on Instagram @margazm.as

Find out about studying Fine Art Painting at Brighton.

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