Aistė Stancikaitė (b.1988, in Lithuania), currently lives and works in Berlin. Aistė works in monochromatic drawing and painting, achieving texture and depth with the detailed handling of tones of purple and red. The artist challenges perceptions of reality by the sheer perfectionism of her approach. A significant part of her work deals with the human figure, the portrayed characters’ anatomy and personality, appearing as both familiar acquaintances and fictional strangers. Through the effort to capture sensible details she demonstrates not only her technical skills but also her generosity towards the other.
Stancikaitė has been participating in exhibitions and residencies around the world since 2014 and has received at least five different meritorious awards.
Text courtesy of GNYP Gallery.
Hi Aistė! Thank you for sitting down with me. The first question that I always ask is: How does a regular day look for you in Berlin?
My day typically begins with a morning walk with my dog, often paired with a cup of coffee. Despite waking up early, around 7:30–8 AM, I enjoy taking my mornings slow. I usually head to the studio between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. and work until around 5 or 6 p.m., with minimal breaks. After work, I return home and take my dog out once more, and my evening activities vary based on my plans.
I’m curious. Growing up in Lithuania, what kind of kid were you, what did you enjoy doing, and how did you spend your time?
As a kid, I was shy and introverted but very creative. I loved reading, thanks to my parents’ bedtime stories, and spent a lot of time with books. When I wasn’t reading, I played outside, climbing trees and playing hide and seek with the neighborhood kids.
It wasn’t until I was around 16 that I got into drawing and painting, and once I did, I became very passionate about it.
While we’re on the topic, what brought you to Berlin?
I moved to Berlin, seeking a change in my life. I had previously lived in Bristol, UK, but after a few years, it no longer inspired me. I was curious about experiencing life in a larger and more creatively vibrant city, and Berlin seemed like the perfect fit. Finding my place within the city took some time, but now I’ve come to feel quite at home here.
So when did you start to paint? And when did you start taking being an artist seriously?
I started my art journey by studying painting at the Vilnius Academy of Art right after high school. However, after completing my studies, I took a long break from art. I only returned to it when I was around 27, starting with drawing, which felt most accessible to practice at home. This eventually led to a full-time career as an illustrator, and now I mainly focus on my personal painting and drawing practice.
Alright, let’s talk about your work now. You’ve mentioned that the characters in your work are more like alien characters. Too perfect-looking and artificial-looking. My questions are: Who are they, and what’s the inspiration behind them? And what are you hoping to convey?
The question of “who are they?” is one I often grapple with myself. In my work, I purposefully opt for a uniform appearance for most of the figures and faces. By bringing in this deliberate uniformity, I aim to create characters that exude a near-flawless quality, almost bordering on the artificial and sculptural. This approach reflects my conscious effort to eliminate the presence of distinctive “personality” and realism in these representations. Instead, my intention is for these figures to serve as symbolic embodiments of humanity in a broad sense, devoid of any specific real-life identity. I hope that this approach enables everyone to project their own experiences and narratives onto the work and delve into the deeper layers that lie beneath the surface realism.
With that in mind, you also mention that naturalistic proportions and elements of the present- day act as a reminder of real life, yet the carefully chosen styling and color create a new world. Can you tell me about that? Where is this new world you create in your paintings? And how does it differ from the one we live in now?
The world I’m creating is a unique and highly individual experience for each observer. It can be a dream world, an almost unattainable reality, or even an entirely different universe. Personally, this world I’m shaping resides within me, delving into the shadowy aspects of the human condition and my own experience of it.
However, the world in my work doesn’t have to be entirely disconnected from our current reality. It’s not a reflection of the world we see on the streets, but rather an introspective realm. I think these two worlds can coexist, side by side. I’d like to think the world I’m creating is timeless, though.
I’m curious about the quiet and non-direct topic of gender and genderlessness in your work. Tell me about that, please.
I’m very interested in the topic of gender, and it serves as a significant, although not immediately apparent, contextual element in my work. However, my approach to gender is more about its deconstruction than the portrayal of binary aspects. My primary goal is to ensure that when you encounter a representation of the human body in my work, it remains intentionally non-descriptive. To achieve this, I employ close-ups, obscuring hands and certain body parts, rendering the gender aspect nearly imperceptible or, at the very least, ambiguous. This approach resonates with me, as my focus centers on portraying the human experience, regardless of gender identity.
In one of your previous interviews, I read that you started drawing only in red, with recognizable subjects and accessories surrounded by white space. Can you tell me a little bit about that? When did your appreciation for the color red first begin?
The choice of a red color scheme evolved organically and intuitively. I was seeking a way to detach my work from reality, which proved difficult with a strictly lifelike palette. I experimented with different colors, but there was something captivating about the intensity that red brought to my work. By incorporating various shades of red, I was able to craft a slightly surreal and enigmatic universe.
So what do you think it is about red hues that resonates so well with you? And how do you approach color in general?
Red offers a vast spectrum of hues and tones, which intrigued me and allowed me to explore a multitude of possibilities. I was curious to see how far I could push the boundaries and what I could achieve by primarily relying on this one dominant color. Limiting my color palette also helped me stay attuned to the context of my work as well as the structure and form of the subjects I portrayed. Additionally, I was captivated by the strong physical presence and impact that the color red exerts on both the surrounding space and the viewer. While my palette has expanded beyond exclusively red tones, red still remains very present in my work.
However, I’ve now been exploring color more broadly and letting it evolve organically. I find myself increasingly drawn to cooler blues and purples, and I’m embracing this shift. Color has become a spontaneous and intuitive aspect of my creative process, and I’m enjoying that. I still focus on primary colors because they evoke a visceral response and have a physical impact on the viewer, adding another layer of depth to my work.
I know that it’s important to you that your pieces are equally thought-provoking and seductive. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
My artistic approach has consistently revolved around the idea of revealing less rather than providing excessive information. I find that showing less does not mean seeing or understanding less. On the contrary, I feel like this approach tends to broaden the context of my work by infusing
it with an air of obscurity and mystery, which, in turn, provokes more questions—something that really intrigues me.
My main challenge in working this way is to ensure that the work remains engaging on both conceptual and visual levels. In each piece, I strive to strike a delicate balance between the simplicity of the compositions and their ability to remain visually stimulating, thought-provoking, and enticing. I want to captivate the viewer, encouraging them to spend more time with the work, revisit it, explore its depths, and raise questions. When I look at art, my engagement usually begins with the piece’s visual allure, which then draws me into the layers of context beneath the surface. This is precisely what I aim to achieve in my own work.
You’ve worked with big-name brands such as Apple, Audi, Bloomberg, Instagram, Dior, Forbes, GQ, Porsche, New York Times, and Universal Music, to name a few. Do you ever get nervous or feel the pressure to deliver?
Lately, I’ve shifted my focus away from client work, placing a greater emphasis on personal projects and exhibitions. Nevertheless, the internal pressure to produce good work is always there, and I uphold a high self-imposed standard. I consistently aim to do better, which elicits a mix of anxiety and excitement whenever significant opportunities arise. I think these emotions are an intrinsic part of my artistic journey, signaling that I am continuously evolving and developing as an artist.
What motivates you?
My primary motivation is a strong desire for growth. With each body of work, I’m driven to improve and expand it further, and this process has no end. My innate curiosity also plays a significant role, motivating me to explore both my inner world through my work and the new opportunities that my practice can lead me to. Additionally, it’s truly motivating to see that my work has an impact on people. Even if it sparks inspiration in just one person, that’s reason enough for me to continue.
How would you describe a perfect day?
A perfect day always begins with a good night’s sleep, followed by a slow morning walk with my dog, where we stop for a leisurely coffee and pastries in the sunshine. That’s about as perfect as it gets.
Alright Aistė. I always ask these two questions at the end of an interview. The first is: What’s your favorite movie(s) and why?
One of my all-time favorites is “Coffee and Cigarettes” by Jim Jarmusch. This film brilliantly captures the nuances and subtleties of everyday human interactions. Every time I watch it, I discover new details and layers, emphasizing how much depth can be found in something seemingly simple.
The second is, what song(s) are you currently listening to the most right now?
I’m currently listening to these songs on repeat:
MARBL – The Mechanism Of All Temporary Things Moderator – Cat’s Eyes (Private Little World)
Moloko – Should’ve Been, Could’ve Been
Lonnie Liston Smith & The Cosmic Echoes – Peaceful Ones Trentemøller feat. Tricky – No One Quite Like You