Issue #016 Published: 25-01-2018 // Written by: Clara Davies

Minds of Amsterdam

Minds of Amsterdam is a new AA column in which Clara Davies lets us meet a different artist working in Amsterdam each time. This might be someone she’s randomly encountered, someone who has triggered her curiosity or has somehow impressed her. It could be a painter, designer, musician or photographers – it doesn’t matter as long as she or he is a soul whose creative work adds a touch of magic to this world. The purpose? Using AA as a platform where people and art can meet. Enjoy!

Deniss Mitjusevs and the Kinetics of Painting 

I met Deniss over coffee, and a whiskey or two, somewhere in between the Monday blues, and the wee hours of Friday night. Perhaps both. Originally from Latvia, he moved to Amsterdam over a year ago with the intention of finding that je ne sais quoi I tend to believe the artistic minds feed on. Amongst writing and currently finishing off a screen play, he paints the concrete and the abstract. Shapes, forms and lines that make you feel as if you were walking through the inner depths of a man’s soul. Fascinated by the numerous canvas he’s stacked in his room, I decided to interview him. His work is original and charismatic, different, just like him. In art as in life, I guess ones creation is inevitably linked with the thoughts that travel through the webs in the mind. 

Who are you? I don’t know. The first waking second of every morning decides who I am. The breeze that comes in from the sea, the laughter over a few whiskeys, the drive for some form of success and recognition – they all decide and morph the individual that is writing this. 

What is an artist made of? An artist is made of a relentless drive to test the boundaries of an individuals’ existence. Artistry in any form, in my opinion, is the manifestation of ones’ individuality, a certain aspect of human existence that most of us pay attention to and value. Both the freedom and burden of being seen apart from the rest, and the way such burden is carried is the force that holds an artist together.

Why do you paint and what do you feel when you do so? Painting is the most kinetic form of creation. Dance can rival the pure physical expression, but I wouldn’t call myself an expert, at least not when I am sober. There is no thinking in painting, there isn’t any time nor space. Painting is doing. It is letting your body speak. Letting your mind go of any restriction. It is free.

Romeo or Juliet? Romeo. To go such lengths for an idea of love, and to die for it requires a certain bravery and idiocy that I wholesomely respect.

Would you like to make a living out of painting? Not a painter. Apart from the realistic considerations of our time, painting, although it is free, has its limitations. If you see yourself as a storyteller, if you think you have something to say, painting might not be the best choice of medium to impart the public with your ideas. Making a living off of selling your art also involves the kind of gallery public that I grew to dislike quite severely.

Name the first piece you created. When I was about four or five, my mother gave me a set of markers. It might not have been the best idea, since I proceeded to draw all over the fresh wallpaper of my small room. But once my first act of vandalism was over, I turned to paper. After a few haphazard attempts at drawing cartoon characters that I frequently saw on the television, I drew a geometric pattern that resembled a city. I think I have used every color in the set. From then on, the art that I produced was inspired by and followed the same style. Maybe admitting the fact that my painting skills haven’t progressed far from a four year olds isn’t exactly a good thing, but the inspiration and childlike wonder that I experienced while drawing that first true “piece” is still within me.

What gets in the way your inspiration? I have been told numerous times that only boring people are bored. I tend to disagree. Boredom infects everyone, and from my knowledge, creative people of all strides tend to get bored rather quickly. An overactive mind, a search and inability to get inspired, a restlessness, it is all boredom, and boredom is the poison of inspiration. It is the conscious decision to do nothing, and doing nothing about it.

Best meal ever? Florence. April. Copious amounts of olive oil and pastry. The smell of coffee and fresh apricot.

What were you doing 5 years ago today? 2012. I was just beginning to write my first ever screenplay. Lots of books and an unknown, with foresight that I have now, sweet restlessness. The conquest of needed literature. The learning. Blurred colors. Sleepless nights. It was a good year. A year of change, necessary change. The movement and speed were striking. The drive that I had was unlike anything I had ever experienced. Had something to do with seven of cups of coffee I’d regularly down a day.

What are you afraid of? Every creator, at heart, is most afraid of being mediocre. Is afraid that his own individuality is nothing unusual or deserving of attention. Is afraid that the work that he or she puts everything into is worthless. That is my fear.

Who gives you the strength to keep going? Sometimes you come across people in your life that give you a certain spark that keeps a withering spirit of creation aflame. An artist, in any form, needs appreciation. It is the most basic dynamic behind any creative endeavor – the creation and its appreciation. So whenever you do stumble upon such a soul, it is unlike anything you can experience. I am fortunate to have had such luck.

Morning or night? Night. Nothing can beat the silence of 2AM.

What fuels you? Movement. Physical, spiritual, travel, conversation. Exhilarating, fast change of scenery and mood. The speed at which thoughts travel. Life does not usually follow the same pace, on the contrary, it is usually slow, in the viscous textures of routine and simplicity, but whenever, by circumstance or choice, it throttles at breakneck speed into the unknown of the distant and not so distant future, I feel truly alive, and that is what fuels me.

Deniss Mitjusevs ///