Huge balloon dinosaurs, wolf skulls or a little Trump figure with a spray can – these are some of the amazing sculptural artworks of Domas Mykolas from Vilnius. We met the creative artist while finishing one of his newest masterpieces at the remodeling spray event at Keulė Rūkė. His freshly made artwork was part of the “make empathy great again” mural at the front. The message is wonderful and about forgiveness and connecting. Hug the boy, it´s just a kid who did some graffiti with questions about what went wrong during the boys growing up and what kind of mess is he doing since he isn´t a kid anymore. And what is the real vandalism, color on walls or bombs on walls? Could this little figure not just have stood a kid? The whole group artwork is just brilliant, Domas contributed with the nice Trump statue.
Domas Mykolas Malinauskas was born in 1995 in Kaunas in Lithuania, both of his parents are artists, so it was obvious that he would become an artist as well. In 2016 he graduated at Vilnius Academy of Arts with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sculpture thought by supervisor Henry B. Anderson. Since 2017 he is doing his Master in heritage conservation at Vilnius University. Domas is fascinated by mythological themes and the idea of how to transform a little puzzle piece of something into the whole possible bigger structure. Or in one of those many maybe possible structures combined with the artist´s imaginative mind. Some paint, others compose music, Domas always loved to model, to carve and to sculpt. The materials can differ from object to object, so he is even handling with ice.
In his work Domas explores the stereotypes prevailing in the modern world, the existential questions and problems arising from them. Natural sculptures which transform urban life create new parallels between the electronic-synthetic and the “natural”-mythological world. These objects are the focus of his sculptural creations. In 2014 he organized a solo exhibition at the White Gallery in Kaunas, in 2015 he participated in a group exhibition at ArchSkulpt and in 2017 his works have been part of the Vilnius Culture Night. As well in 2017 and 2018 Mykolas presented his works during the Vilnius Art Fair. The sculptor actively participates in various art events in Lithuania and abroad; currently he is working in his studio in Vilnius or playing rugby at the Geležinis Vilkas Club.
We spoke with Domas in an interview about his work, his development as an artist and as well about carving ice sculptures. You can listen to the podcast below, the conversation is as well written down in the following part.
How did you make this new Trump sculpture here in front of us?
Firstly I made if from clay. After that I just made from concrete the forms of the one and the other side. And after that I casted it with glass fiber and some epoxides. I hope nobody will break it, because it´s pretty pretty tough.
When did you start doing art?
Well, my parents are artists. My father is a painter and my mother is a textile artist. So since the early childhood I was always surrounded by art. When I was a kid my father let me draw something on his canvas and stuff like this. But when I was almost graduating school, like in my school you had to choose on which side you want to go. So if it´s the area around painting, or sculptures or textile or something else like design. And I was so sure that I want to make some sculptures. Because when I was a kid I started forming from plastics little warriors and figures. This was the beginning. I really liked the details and everything about those warriors. So I made them. After that I began to form something from the card game Fantastic Games. I made little monsters and dragons and fantasy stuff. Yes, till today. And eventually I started studying at the Vilnius Art Academy. There I graduated not long ago the Bachelor and just this year I started my Master in Sculpture. So it´s a big year for me actually. But I know there have always been the sculptures around me. Because everybody knew it. My parents and their friends who were artists as well. They knew I would also become an artist. There was no question about that.
You kept on going into this kind of art and started even studying it.
Yes, when you start forming materials and doing creative works like this in three dimensional and with all those aspects. You got to learn how to carve, how to do all of the processes properly. You have to learn the techniques and how to make the details. Right now it is in some way the same what I do since I started, but my sculptures are getting more and more difficult and complex. All the time you have to learn and watch videos how to make it, how to carve it and which materials to use. Every single day there are new materials coming up and new technologies are going outside. So you have to know what is the easiest way to make it.
The Trump sculpture you did, this is now one more step even farther. It´s not just a sculptural copy of something or a reconstruction, there is as well a deeper message in a lovely-creative and street guerilla smart way included. How would you describe the sculptures you do?
Yes, well, this one here, the Trump statue is contemporary art. But mainly right now and during the past two years I started studying mythological themes and thought a lot about what the people did imagine in that time. Because they saw something around thousands of years ago and then they tried to imagine how the world and the things they see worked and were made. These mythological themes are very important to me right now. I think it´s very interesting to see and to study the history about it. And I try to imagine how all these people combined and transformed those things over the years to something which we are finally using today. During the Bachelor when I was graduating and in the Master right now I am going to prepare some new works about those mythological themes. I have some works with bones and parts or pieces which make us imagine how the whole picture would look like. For example if you take some scientists who found one bone of a dinosaur and they are creating with this piece the whole dinosaur. How would it look like? They recreate this dinosaur just from one or two bones. So this is really interesting to me. It let me prepare my own vision of that dinosaur.
You get a little glimpse or an idea of something, like an impulse in your head and with this you start creating the manifestation of a sculpture.
Yes, it´s actually usually like this.
Where do these ideas come from? From pictures or visuals or can it be from anywhere?
It always can be from anywhere, but the mythological attempt came in the first course when I started studying the bones. Because we had to draw some wolf bones and other bones. With studying sculpturing we studied as well some anatomy. We learned about the bones, the muscles and how the animals move. We had to learn how to draw which bone parts move when you put your hands up and stuff like this. Step by step it came into my mind that we cannot always see only from bones the truly view. The bones are only the inner part of the body. And we put then the skin on, but on the skin could be anything you can imagine. So step by step my mythological attempt came from that. I remember when I was making my portfolio for the Master and we had to show what we have done before. I saw those pictures and I remembered: “Yeah, that was it where my concept comes from!” I was always interested in that, how to use the form and make the form and how to make a whole sculpture if you just start with a bone.
There are sculptors who are making an animal or a person and they try to copy something real as exactly and detailed as possible. You are doing something different, you start with a little piece and then you are transforming it into a whole structure. But with the Trump sculpture you go even more further, there is much more message in the artwork.
Yes, it´s more political I guess. But it´s not only me in the project. So it´s me and Marla Singer. Because we both were creating that little Trump and the concept. I am really happy that we didn´t make Trump like he looks right now. Because the idea would have been to flat. But when you make him as a child it becomes more political especially in this area. It translates a lot of messages about what´s happening right now. And this place here, Keulė Rūkė, they haven´t been scared to show the reality. So right now while they are performing and painting next to the little Trump it´s nice to know that this is kind of a mess and the world is a mess, but who is making this mess? The kids probably are making the mess.
When the kid is making a mess you think: “Ok, it´s a kid.” And the mess wouldn´t be that big as well if it´s a kid. But when this kid grows older the mess can get very big then. Maybe there went something wrong in the childhood or something bad happened to him when this Trump guy was younger. The sculpture doesn´t show Trump of today, he should have stood that way.
Yes, it shows him when he did not grow up in his mind yet. Actually the graffiti and when he is holding in his hand the spray can behind his back, so it looks like this. And we all know that graffiti artists are as well a little bit destructive. Like they are damaging the wall and all that. We know as a force of people who are making that mess on the walls and in the city center and the police is trying to catch them. So they look pretty dangerous but this little Trump is as well part of this destruction. He is a kid and looks like not guilty in some way, but on the other side he is.
Maybe this little cute guy should have kept on doing graffiti. So what is more destructive? Being a little Trump and spraying graffiti on the wall or being a big Trump and making wars all over and killing people and all that. So what is the bigger vandalism and who is the destructor? The graffiti writer who is putting color on the wall or the guy who is bombing year after year countries. There could be some more statues about some other guys.
Yes, yes, it is like a symbol. It is like an aggressive symbol.
Do you have a studio meanwhile?
Yes, I have! I have it already for two years now since I graduated the Bachelor degree. After this I wanted to have something where I can I still create my arts and all that. It´s like full with air for people who want to breathe art. I have a little studio with about 80 m², but it has a very high ceiling and it´s open to the roof, so with sunlight and two walls. Of course there is some warm place there and a place to switch clothes but yeah, the other part is the artwork studio. I really love it.
Is it your own or do you work there with other artists?
No, no, the studio is just mine. But it is in an old building from the Soviet Union time. During those days there were a lot of metal artists working there and as well jewelers. Nowadays there are still a lot of artists in little studios. Every time when I am passing I say hello to them and they are looking on my work when they pass. And my studio is just next to the main door so everybody who comes and goes is seeing everything there. So they know, Domos is the guy who is making the sculptures. And I made some big ones.
How big can your sculptures become?
The biggest sculpture if you are not talking about the orders I got from people but artworks I just made for my own, I have one which is about two meters tall. It is a wolf skull and I was showing this at the Vilnius Art Fair. It´s like a fair but it´s mostly about letting young artists show their work. So I was showing my two meters tall wolfs skull. I really have that wish to make grand huge sculptures and it let me to transform from my mind what I want to show to the others. Because when you came to the exhibition and you saw the huge sized sculpture. It´s like the expression you would experience. Like: “Wow, nice!” And after that I was trying to find out more about what is that exactly, that effect.
You do all of it now, the range is wide. You can make a big wolf skull, as well you can make a small statue with deeper message.
Yes, and I´m also creating more contemporary art and abstract works. I made a huge tunnel from metal and there is a cassette. You know around the 90s they were pretty popular. And I was just creating the huge long tunnel for a person. It´s very tight and only one human can go through and out. And there is another type of the sculpture it´s also transforming some social messages for people. For me it´s very important to make it not completely comfortable. In the art it doesn´t always have to be nice. Sometimes it is disturbing. And this is how they can read my message.
You told me about some exhibitions, are there some more planed in the future soon?
I have some already. Like the Vilnius Art Fair. I had one about my acceptance for the university; this was in 2016 and in 2017. Last year I didn´t participate because I didn´t have time because of working. I hope next year again. And yes, I prepare an exhibition for in a gallery. The gallery owner asked me to make something special because mostly they are showing art about architecture. He is an architect and he has his own architect studio. But he asked me to make some sculpture there because he wants to have something which looks like architecture. So I made that tunnel for him with the sound inside.
You combined the tunnel with some other effects, like here with voices and sound?
Yes, yes. When I was talking about the cassette. You know, when on the cassette was a break or the song was finished there was always that noise. That silent noise. I showed only that noise and there is a voice talking about human responsibilities and how nowadays all the social media just makes us like walking through a tunnel. That´s why I have chosen the tunnel form. And we are going alone because all the time we are hearing this noise. I said I take it as a symbol. For me this is pretty interesting and also for the gallery owner. This is coming up in autumn because I didn´t prepare it until summer. During summer it is not the time to make an exhibition because everybody is on holiday or outside. So I asked him to make it during the autumn time when everyone is back.
Tell me a bit more about your development of becoming an artist.
There was a moment when I just forgot how to be an artist. Well this comes really from the inside of my heart. It´s kind of difficult to open it up but I was talking as well about that with my girlfriend. I guess because that was a really huge problem for me. That´s why I have difficulties to call myself an artist because I feel guilty towards myself. I started with thirteen years old to go to the local rugby training in my home town Kaunas. I was in training there for ten years but my team mates they didn´t accept me as an artist. When I told them that I was going to the arts school there was a lot about the art thing and the math and the Latin language. Most of them were from normal schools. There were around 30 students and pupils but they didn´t know what art is for sure and for real. So it took me like five years till they stopped calling me like a faggot because I am an artist. They said I don´t want to be a guy like them. So I kind of forgot all of my art a little bit. But actually I really wanted to be a good artist. When I came to Vilnius I started to go to another rugby club here in Vilnius. And right now in this club they accept me as what I am and they are really nice guys. I really love those guys, my team mates. They let me be and they didn´t say anything about that. They accept me like I am and I show them that I am going to make some sculptures for the fair and one for here in Keulė Rūkė. As well I showed them what I made before. And they said: “Nice, oh it´s really nice” And: “Domos, keep going, keep going! You´re the best!” They call me Sculpture because of that and because they know that I am a sculptor. Right now I feel like my old injuries are healing. This was a hard time, a psychological hard time. A few years ago there was the ending of that time in Kaunas.
In this Vilnius Club which is called Geležinis Vilkas the guys accept me as an artist. In that way I just prepared some works about the rugby because I am playing rugby. And one of them was like a video. You know when the camera is just moving around and the ball is going. There is the game and the ball and the passing. It shows a lot of little parts about the rugby but it is very characteristic. My lector said that it was really good and nice. The second one was when I put some plastic materials and bags and stuff like this on the place in our stadium and on the training we went just for running through that place over the plastics. And because we were sporting with boots on the plastic they left the boot signs and the foot signs. Then I put that in the academy on the wall like a painting. This was really nice also and to me a great work. The lector was happy as well because I showed them a side of my inside life which is not connected to my university. It´s my hobby, it showed him what I do else, and I made some art with my hobby. So it was really nice.
You are doing ice sculptures as well?
Yes, it was in the beginning of this year a guy came and asked me. I was preparing some sketches in a competition to draw some sculptures from ice. And I was really interested about it. That was a new material to me. And I said: “Yes, alright! No problem!” I just draw something to him and he accepted. There were a lot of other sculptors from all over the world for example from the Netherlands, from Canada or from Mongolia. The theme was about fairy tales and I decided to draw a throne and a old guy who is telling about the stars. And they liked it and so I carved it.
How did you carve it? Did you get an ice block?
The organizers made the ice blocks for you. But the blocks are like 1 meter to 50 centimeters. So you need to clay them and you actually do this with water. Because the ice has a temperature about minus 30 degrees, something around that. And they carve so fast, because it melts very fast as well. First you make the main form with those blocks and then after that you start curving it with an electric chainsaw. You are putting down all the unnecessary parts and after that you are just using the smaller tools like axe and curving tools. And after that at the last step you just put some light on the spot because the ice looks nice when it´s dark and if you put some interesting lights on it. When you are working with ice you have to understand that it´s a transparent material. So you got to find a way to show the best parts of the ice when it´s transparent. You´ve got already to think about it when you are sketching. You have to think about the idea. And after that when you know what to do, you just make it.
By making other sculptures you have some object afterwards, but the ice sculptures, they are just temporarily. You are creating something which is just gone after a short time. How is the feeling about that?
When I do some others sculpture compared to those? Well, I am really passionate about just making the sculptures. It doesn´t matter what it´s going to be. So if it is from plaster or from stone or with metal or something else. Or even ice. I have a huge passion just to carve something and to make that. It doesn´t matter what material it is. How I feel about it? I can really putting myself into that sculpture and what I do. All those materials which are going to disappear after a day or two days let me experiment a bit. Like with ice, it is going to disappear after short time and I could experiment with it. I could try some kind of new stuff I want to make.
It´s about doing it and making it, not about possessing it.
Yes. Right now I have an invitation to make an ice sculpture. And they left us absolutely free thinking about the theme. They said feel absolutely free. And I decided to make a balloon dinosaur. With ice. You know how the balloons look like and they have a really nice texture when they are all connected. So I decided to make a balloon dinosaur and they let me do it. So it´s pretty nice and it let me make things which I am not going to make in my studio. I am trying to make a little bit more serious stuff now. But ice is still a new material to me so it just let me experiment with that. It´s really nice.
Website: Maviete: https://maviete.wixsite.com/domasmykolas
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