Milena's Creation Work

About me

Architectural form and design of ceramics constitute my three-dimensional canvases. I really like the combination of white clay and black pigment. A simple and yet complicated technique, trying to create a drawing with dust-like powder. Slowly and carefully; barely touching; rubbing and scratching the surface. It is a very fragile design that can be easily damaged. Only when fixed in glaze, an image acquires depth and resembles a graphic artwork or a black and white photo.

I have long noticed that black and white photographs remind me of the past since I grew up surrounded by such photo albums. Self-reflection and an attempt to “wander” the past is the most interesting part of my creative work. Reminiscences, repetitive dreams, trying to listen to what the subconscious “prompts,” what themes it dictates. It is so intriguing to intertwine personal experience with the surrounding environment, to create my own symbols.

Ceramics provides me with a unique possibility to supplement design with form. Sometimes, a piece is similar to an image; although to me, form is just as important as design, they are like complementary elements. I create minimalist, urban objects, and their planes become the walls I can decorate. I create sculptures reminiscent of frozen landscapes. Sometimes, there are works where I simply want to feel clay, to reject any drawing and emphasize form.

More about Milena

Milena Pirštelienė (b. 1969) is an author of contemporary ceramics from Vilnius. In 1996, the artist graduated from Vilnius Academy of Arts and became a member of the Lithuanian Artists’ Association in 1999. Pirštelienė has been actively involved in exhibition activities since 1996. Throughout her professional path, excepting several intervals of creative rest, the artist’s works have been displayed in over fifty national and international exhibitions.

The artist has been working in the sphere of ceramics for over three decades and has experimented a lot looking for her own style. From the earliest stages of her work, Pirštelienė has been engrossed in the expansion of aesthetic and technological art boundaries as well as the links between visual and applied arts in search of her own creative individuality.

Having started her career path from pop art ceramic sculptures and images, the author gradually moved to traditional ceramics and synthesizing of old photographs; to the means of expression breathing of vintage spirit. Graphic designs, pictorial washing of colours and architectural sculpture forms became more and more common in the artist’s works as well as a wider variety of materials, different combinations of clay and firing. Some of the author’s works include sculptural compositions arranged as puzzles fastened with screws into one uniform artwork (Travel Landscapes, 2014; Bridge, Swings, 2016); there is even an aquarium filled with water and one live fish (Sweet Life, 2013).

In around 2017, Pirštelienė discovered her own technique of painting on ceramic surfaces and, in the same year, was awarded the 3rd prize for her work Night at the Exhibition of Contemporary Ceramics of the Baltic States Spring 2017. In 2018, the author was granted the main Liudvikas Strolis Award for her work Six Rooms at the 5th Vilnius Ceramic Art Biennial. The combination of design and minimalist sculptural form gave her works that three-dimensional effect reminiscent of a lifelike ceramic painting.

Despite all the complex technological and aesthetic experiments, improvisation, repetition of motives and themes, and even a kind of animated reproduction (similar to black and white cinefilm or photographs) play a highly significant role in the author’s creative activities.

Looking back at the period of 1996-2020, a clear thematic and symbolic continuity can be observed. In her works, the author often chooses a landscape genre, whether actual or imaginary urban mazes, or emotionally changing natural scenery. Classic genre frames enable the artist to reveal sophisticated technological professionalism and sensitive personal vision of the world to a viewer. Milena’s world is dominated by monochrome colours and turbulent feelings intermingling with the search for internal harmony and reflections on the unknown, mysterious future.

The landscapes of Pirštelienė inspired by repetitive dreams reveal co-existence of nature and creations of man – at time so harmonious, and at times so dramatic. Regardless of ceramic form such co-existence acquires (abstract objects or more naturalistic reflections of reality), water – the symbol rendering meaning to life and the flow of time – encompasses and unites everything in a rhythmic manner. It gushes, flows, floods cities and houses revealing the perspective of the world without us (the following cycles and works: Aequilibrium, Balance, Water, Distant Horizons, Dreaming of Sea, Anxiety, Travel Landscapes, Repetitions, Sweet life, 2013-2020).

Subtle games with light, ceramic images formed by fine lines and scratches, a harmonious composition of sculpture and design play a major part in the author’s works. The aesthetics of emptiness resembling the surrealistic and melancholic tradition of metaphysical painting is equally important. The artist develops it through urban spaces, natural landscapes, and closed chamber rooms. Even though Milena’s world is often devoid of people, some of her artworks do contain shadows of occasional passersby, unknown characters. Sometimes they encounter in undefined spaces; sometimes they are separated by bridges and thick walls, thus highlighting the themes of loneliness, estrangement, and interpersonal relations. Cities, rooms, oceans and their lonely inhabitants, distant horizons, bridges and stairways, shadows and light streaming through the opened doors and windows – they are all intermingled and blended as if in an irrational dream; the dream where subconscious intuition becomes the main guide of a viewer around distant memories, old experiences, metamorphoses of intercultural myths and archetypes.

Awards, scholarships

2021 Republican competition exhibition of ceramic works "Unique vessel", diploma, Vytautas Valiušis Museum of Ceramics, Utena Museum of Local Lore, Utena District Municipality;
2021 Individual State Scholarship of the Lithuanian Culture Council;
2019 Individual State Scholarship of the Lithuanian Culture Council;
2019 Baltic contemporary ceramics exibition “Pamati/Basics”, Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre, Daugavpils, Latvia. Solo exibition award;
2018 XII-th Exhibition of Contemporary Ceramics of the Baltic Countries, “Spring 2018”. 1’st place award. Gallery ”Meno parkas”, Kaunas, Lithuania;
2017 XI-th Exhibition of Contemporary Ceramics of the Baltic Countries, “Spring 2017”. 3’rd place award. Gallery ”Meno parkas”, Kaunas, Lithuania;
2016 X-th Exhibition of Contemporary Ceramics of the Baltic Countries, “Spring 2016. 1’st place award. Gallery “Meno parkas", Kaunas, Lithuania;
2016 IV-th Vilnius Ceramic Art Biennial. Lithuanian Artists’ Association Gallery ”Arka“. 2’nd place award. Vilnius, Lithuania;
2014 III-th Vilnius Ceramic Art Biennial. Lithuanian Artists’ Association Gallery ”Arka“. 2’nd place award. Vilnius, Lithuania