Home Magazine The Dual Nature of Humanity: An Interview with Gaya Lastovjak

Discovering the Inspiration and Impact Behind Gaya Lastovjak's Art, a contemporary figurative artist based in Krakow, Poland

We had the pleasure to interview Gaya Lastovjak, a contemporary figurative artist based in Krakow, Poland, whose works explore themes relating to the dualistic nature of man, that is good and evil, which is part of human nature. She also engages in a dialogue with current events and phenomena.

Kooness: What does your art mean to you?

Gaya Lastovjak: Art is a way for me to express myself and my view of the world. What fascinates me the most is the human being and the issues related to him. I observe people very carefully, and I am amazed by the diversity and multitude of emotions they hide. When I create, I try to show what I feel, my point of view on what the world and the human beings in it can be like. All my life I have been wondering about the mechanisms that govern our good and bad sides. Why do people behave the way they do, and why do some choose good and others evil? That is why my art most often deals with the subject of the dualistic nature of man. I also show personal worries and fears, sometimes nice associations and positive memories. My art is the materialization of everything that is in my observations, thoughts, mind and heart. I think that many artists would answer this question similarly to me because art is subjective and represents something different but personal for everyone. For me, art is a voice in the world around us, it is part of me.

Kooness: Where do you find inspiration from?

GL: I'm inspired by the contradictions of human character, its behavior and reactions. These are the main themes of my paintings. In fact, inspiration comes from everything that is created by human hands, especially music, books, films, architecture, photography and art. Some time ago I was looking for inspiration from such artists as Vadim Stein, Annie Leibovitz and fashion photography. For example, the painting entitled “Mystery” was based on a photograph by Pierre Debusscher that he created for Vogue magazine. A few paintings have been created based on the observation of ancient art, but usually, the compositions appear in my head by themselves. I stopped looking for ready-made patterns a long time ago. I think it's because in my life I've seen and still see a lot of examples of visual arts that have left a trace in my head. Thanks to this, my imagination gives me ideas for paintings. The attitude of some artists known today is also important to me. The world of art is not easy, and in today's world, which is rich in excellent art, it is difficult to gain recognition. In such situations, I am inspired by the attitude of artists such as Frida Kahlo or L. S. Lowry, who never gave up, despite life's difficulties. However, what inspires me the most is the human himself, his everyday struggles and the emotions associated with it.

Gaya Lastovjak, Dependency, 2022. Courtesy of Teravarna. 

Kooness: How can your work help or affect societal issues?

GL: Social problems are a frequent phenomenon that needs to be talked about, trying to find solutions and improving the situation in society. Violence, wars, discrimination - these are the topics that I also discuss in my works, those showing the evil side of human nature. I try to show the despair, hence the torn bodies expressing a cry for help, such as the painting entitled “Pain”, which is intended to draw the viewer's attention to the problem of sufferers, especially women who are victims of aggression or terror. The artwork shows a wounded, incomplete female body that is torn apart by aggressive hands symbolizing violence and hatred. With my work, I not only wanted to raise the subject of the physical suffering of women but also to draw attention to the fact that nowadays in many countries women still do not have their rights, they are persecuted and humiliated. I do not mean fighting for gender equality, but about treating women as human beings, not as inferior. My painting also has an element of hope, it is the hand extended in a gesture of consolation from the upper right side. With this gesture, I wanted to express my voice that we should all fight for ourselves and our better tomorrow, and also to support each other. The paintings “Collusion” and “Connivance” criticize lies and deceit, some of the worst traits of the human character. Both works show two figures who are plotting, planning something bad, and colluding. In turn, “Unbreakable” tells about war and the unyielding struggle of people, which is why the body stands upright despite torn arms and the body tied with a rope. It is a composition showing the drastic effects of wars but glorifying the heroic attitude of a man who does not give up. I hope that my way of discussing difficult topics will draw viewers' attention and make them think about being more empathetic to others. For my little voice to be heard and for the people to experience a change for the better. Sometimes I take part in charity auctions, sometimes I donate money to sick children or animal shelters. I use ecological materials (certificate folders, thank you envelopes, business cards) to reduce littering of the environment. If everyone at least tried to be a better person, be more helpful and nicer to others, and change attitude for the better, the world would also become a better place. 

Gaya Lastovjak, Connivance, 2021. Courtesy of Teravarna

Kooness: What factors influence the value of your works?

GL: Many factors influence the value of my work. First of all, I developed my artistic language. This is a very important issue. I also have my own, original technique, the secrets of which only I know, i.e. specific materials, proportions and durability. I wrote to people who bought my paintings a long time ago and although my works seem delicate, they are durable. They can only be damaged by external factors, such as crushing, but if proper installation on the wall and safe transport are ensured (I take great care of this), the painting will last for centuries. Another aspect of the value of my works is artistic awards. I started taking part in competitions in 2021. In the period 2021-2023, I won 29 international awards and nominations, which significantly increased the value of my work. The same can be said about exhibitions. I have exhibited my paintings in Italy, Austria, Spain, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Monaco and other countries around the world. The most important exhibitions in which I participated were the 59th Venice Biennale, the International Contemporary Art Fair in Monaco, the exhibition at the Venanzo Crocetti Museum in Rome and the Van Gogh Gallery in Madrid, the VIIIth edition of RAW (Rome Art Week) at the Palazzo della Cancelleria Vaticana, the XIVth Florence Biennale, Warsaw Art Fair and many others. It is also worth mentioning that the price of a specific painting depends on its achievements. Work that has won awards in competitions or been shown at prestigious artistic events will certainly be more expensive. The last issue is technique. Since it is complicated and time-consuming, only a few paintings are created each year; I made a maximum of fourteen works in one year (it was 2021). In 2023, I only did seven. It is also worth noting that I use high-quality materials and some of the most expensive oil paints on the market. I do not make replicas, each painting is different and I care about its uniqueness.

Gaya Lastovjak, The harmony of wholeness, 2022. Courtesy of Teravarna. 

Kooness: What are your ultimate career goals?

GL: I would like my art to reach a wider audience, and make people think about themselves and their world. I plan to create innovative and very interesting works, positively surprise and encourage people to interact with art. To show my works in prestigious art galleries and artistic events. My dream is to one day appear at Tate Modern, Moma or at an auction at Sotheby's. Of course, win more awards, increase the value of my art, work hard and develop all the time.

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