Aukse Miliukaite (b. 1990) studied at the University of the Arts in London and recently graduated from her painting studies at the Vilnius Academy of Arts. She has held several solo shows and is an active participant of group exhibitions, artistic projects, workshops and plein-air sessions. The artist draws inspiration for her expressive multi-coloured canvases from painting and its history. In her work, Aukse Miliukaite includes several layers of historical painting production – works by Henri Matisse, Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne, Camille Corot, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin and other artists. She adds elements of contemporary visual culture to historical compositions and constructs new narratives from details belonging to different periods, gives so-far-unknown meanings to famous classical works and provides them with new contexts. Manipulating the material of art history and faking it in a certain way, Miliukaite explores the life of a work of art since the moment of its creation and analyses how a work becomes encrusted with legends and myths and how its meaning changes in the course of time.
Analysing the changes in the semantic field of painting, the artist emphasises the role of the users – viewers – of the work and asserts that it is their intentions rather than those of its creator that the content of artworks depends on. By constructing unexpected paradoxical visual situations, she provokes the viewers to get involved in an intellectual game and break the traditional rules of reading an artwork, to take a different view of the images that seem to have stuck in memory, to expand these images with their own stories, relate them with their own experiences and find themselves in the picture. Alongside, Miliukaite presents some insights into contemporary image culture and its spread: built according to the principle of free association, her works reflect a many-faceted and unwieldy stream of contemporary visual information.
Another important aspect of Miliukaite’s work is criticism of art institutions. Making free use of historical paintings, the artist challenges authorities on art, criticises the mechanism of creative influences and questions the role of art institutions. She also addresses the question of originality of a work of art and the author’s status. In the painter’s works, great artists and their pictures lose their immunity and sacrality of a museum piece and turn into raw material helping Miliukaite reveal the possibilities of painting as a medium, tame the expression of painting and discover new aesthetic and narrative solutions. Thus, the painter not only strikes a dialogue with the history of painting, but also uses it as a commentary to describe her own situation as a young artist.