Creative Travel: An Interview About Guerilla Street Art

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Sometimes living abroad can be a challenge, so I wanted to focus on forgetting about the challenges and enjoying the positives. To do so, I've started an occasional feature on In Search Of that highlights creative events, places, and people happening both at home and abroad. 

In previous posts, I've talked about the more creative side of Lithuania including Open Kitchen, the Beer MarathonPottery ClassCoffee Enthusiasm, A book fair, and a felting class. If you have any suggestions of things to check out or have something interesting to share yourself, I'd love to hear them!

If you would like to participate in sharing creative things about where you live, tag your photos on Instagram or tweets on Twitter with #CreativeLocale. I'd love to see the creative side of every country! 

Today, I have the pleasure of chatting with Yan Kalbaska who I connected with via Twitter because of his #1Guerilla project. 

1) Tell us about #1guerilla and why it started.

Before #1guerilla, I did the opposite — a created a pavilion in a village near my studio and put my paintings on the walls. It took me about a week to complete and state the concept of a no viewer gallery — that art doesn’t need a viewer to be created and to exist.

Inspired, I wanted to display my paintings to public then. I knew there would not be many viewers If I show my art in a gallery unless it would be a huge media event. Risking my works to be destroyed or stolen was no worse than keeping them in a closet.

That’s how I came to the idea of an unsupervised, unauthorized, anonymous gallery displaying one piece at a time. Hence the name #1guerilla. I just glue my paintings to the walls, making them easily removable and asking no permission.

Rosebush by Yan Kalbaska (in Vilnius on Strange Love)

Photo by Yan Kalbaska



2) How did you pick the locations to put your paintings? Did you have a specific painting in mind for each location?

I didn't want my paintings to contrast the environment, I wanted them to blend. I found a few suitable places were people would stand by a piece a meter or less away as the paintings are not large enough to be enjoyed from the far. It also created an intimate connection with the viewer. I am still amused only one painting was vandalized and destroyed. Then I just browsed through my works to find a better fit.

After 3 works were happily staring at people in Minsk, with some mentions, cherish, and no aggression, I decided to spread the love to the other city I visit the most — Vilnius. A totally different audience, and still it worked well. Even during my short visits I saw people stop and stare. Believe me, it means much more than a painting hanging in a gallery and enjoyed by art lovers. People in the streets are mostly by themselves and I talk to them even when I am not there.



Poplars Along The Road by Jan Kalbaska (on Taste Map, Vilnius)

Photo by Yan Kalbaska


 

3) Where else can readers find more of your #1guerilla street art?

 

I never exposed any additional information about the project, as it was part of the experiment. I attached #1guerilla label to every painting, and removed the signatures of me as an author.

My idea was not to dig for more information and to advertise myself, but to put rural-themed art organically into urban environment letting people notice what's around them and enjoying it without knowing where it comes from.

I was willing to know the fate of the works. So hashtag search was the only means of communication with my viewers. I also watched as people were passing by, giving a glance, walking closer, taking pictures, discussing with friends. One of the paintings was written on with pen comments, then taken down without traces. One was carefully replaced after cafe’s repair works were done. And in general, I'm happy that owners never wanted to remove the works of art from their walls.


Photo by Yan Kalbaska

Stairs on the Roof by Yan Kalbaska (photo by Yan Kalbaska)


4) Looking ahead to 2017, what are your future plans for #1guerilla?

 

This season is over. I'm glad 4 of 5 works survived and are still being enjoyed by people. I'm currently doing some larger pieces. Not sure if they are a good fit for the streets. But some etudes [pieces] already feel like they need the city setting. It’s great to see intermixture of rural landscapes with the urban space, like a perfect frame to enrich the piece. I'm sure I will deliver something approachable to thousands of viewers now and that motivates me a lot!

Evening Skies by Yan Kalbaska (photo by Yan Kalbaska)

Photo by Yan Kalbaska


5) How can readers connect with you online?

I'm most active with my instagram @kalbaxa, you can always write me a direct message, I think it's fastest. And I keep a reference of my paintings on a website yan.kalbaska.net ready for sale.








Final comments:

Thanks for chatting with me, Yan! I love how people are interacting with your public paintings. When I saw the first #1Guerilla painting in Vilnius (the one on Taste Map), I was walking with a friend and we both admired it and took photos! I also love how you've made your pieces anonymous, so that your art and the "no viewer gallery" concept can stand on its own. When I saw the second piece on Strange Love, I became curious about who created the paintings and how the locations were chosen. The hashtag and art itself is what made me ask around on Twitter about the movement and is what connected me with Yan in the first place! You can read more about the no viewer gallery concept on Yan's website.

I hope the art lasts through the winter and look forward to seeing some great new pieces in the future!



You can find Yan's art for #1Guerlla in these locations:


 



What do you think #1guerilla as a way to share art with the public? Do you think art should be put in the public for viewers to appreciate? What is your favorite piece from above? Mine is Rosebush. 

I'm linking up with #Farawayfiles number 7!

12 comments:

  1. Love this. Anyone who makes the effort to brighten others' days gets a big thumbs up from me. There is a guy in London who makes teeny tiny artworks from used chewing gum and has placed 1000s around the city. Even on the Millennium Bridge. I love spotting them. Thanks for sharing with us on #FarawayFiles

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    1. Isn't it nice to find ways to spread cheer in big cities! I've heard of the chewing gum artworks and would love to see them. I think great street art really helps to brighten a city!

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  2. What a wonderful idea! This is a fascinating way to see people interacting with art - I like the idea of putting rural scenes into urban places and turning streets into art galleries. A really fascinating post. Thanks for sharing it with us on #FarawayFiles

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    1. Thanks for coming by! I think Yan's ideas are great and when you see the paintings in really life, they really compliment the area. It really puts a smile on your face!

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  3. What a fascinating project. How interesting that only one of the artworks was vandalised. It shows that people have more respect than we give them credit for. I came to this post via #FarawayFiles, but it would be perfect for my #CulturedKids linky too. It goes live on the Pigeon Pair and Me the first Friday of every month - the next link up is Friday 2 December. Nell

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    1. Hi Nell, thanks for letting me know about your link up! I'll write it down so I can remember it (but tweeting a reminder is a good idea, too). I love connecting with bloggers via link ups!

      About the art, I just walked by one of the paintings this morning to check on it and it was still there! I wanted to see if all of the snow and rain we've been having ruined it, but it still looks beautiful!

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  4. This is such an awesome project! I always love reading about projects like this. There is a different one going on in the US called "Ben's Bells" that I discovered recently (http://aandj8804.blogspot.com/2015/10/bens-bells-letter-to-charleston.html), and even a mosaic artist in NYC (http://mosaicmannyc.com/) that has been displaying his works for years. It always makes me so happy to hear about artists that want to share their work to make people happy and are less interested in monetary gains (though I totally agree with supporting local artists!). Thanks for sharing more about the #1Guerlla project and interviewing the artist. I will definitely be sharing this post on social media! :)

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    1. It is great to read about your enthusiasm in supporting local artists and enjoying their street art as well! Thanks for sharing about those other projects going on in the US. I will absolutely look them up -- I love stuff like this!

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  5. Love this and love your idea for this series. I love seeing creative people doing interesting things from different perspectives. Thanks for sharing - I loved this one for #FarawayFiles - cheers from Denmark, Erin

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    1. Thanks, Erin! I put the series on hold for a bit, but now that it is winter again I need a reason to get out and try new things! I absolutely have the tendency to hibernate. Do you try to get out and explore unique things in Denmark? I'm sure there is SO much to do there!

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  6. Wow! So nice to read such comments and to know it gets more than a silent smile)

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    1. Thank you again, Yan! This was such a wonderful interview and everyone loves your work!

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