Modern society suffers from permanent neuroses. People in big cities feel more estranged and lonely; they experience unbearable boredom and pain because of the inability to become a complete personality, to find integrity, and lost acuity of feelings. In this situation it is a psychologist who acquires great importance as he is a person who has assumed the role of a confessor in our secularized and uncharmed world, a healer of souls and, in a sense, a magician able to advise a path to salvation to a lost soul, to give them hope for a better future.

The hero of our story, Igor Kalinauskas, is known as a psychologist, as well as an efficient business coach. He is surrounded by hundreds of students, admirers and just friends, acquired on his long and complicated life journey from all over the world. Alongside with psychology, Igor Kalinauskas is engaged in the fine arts, he organizes exhibitions in various art centres and galleries all over the world.

– Igor, could you tell us how your passion for art began?

– I have been interested in art since childhood. Once I spent a whole year attending the Palace of Young Pioneers and schoolchildren to paint in watercolours, and one of my paintings was even exhibited at the city art exhibition. Music, painting, theater, poetry, literature – this entire world of art has always been taking an important place in my life. At the same time, I got interested in philosophy and psychology. It was a kind of protest against the soviet reality. As we all remember, Lenin excluded the study of logic from the university curriculum, and then Stalin excluded psychology. And I decided to study psychology as a sign of disagreement.

Psychology and art were two parallels which went together for so long, and they first met in the profession of a stage director. I deeply admire Pyotr Mikhaylovich Yershov; he influenced me enormously – he wrote a wonderful book, named “ directing as a Practical Psychology”. And actually, all my theatrical activities, some studios and etc. were just something medium between a psychological research laboratory and the theatre as it is. That’s why I used to be at times accused that my directorial creations were more like lectures than performances.

– And did you yourself act in those performances?

– Yes! I am quite a good actor. Even being a stage director, I was always an expert in replacing actors. For example, when someone got ill, the head of the troupe tried to catch me when I was on my way from my morning rehearsal and told me: “You will have to play tonight“. And that very night I was on stage.

– Were you a director of the classical or the avant-garde trend?

– I graduated from the Shchukin Theatre school. That’s why I am a follower of Schukin style, so to say a Vachtangov’s director. It speaks for itself. The more time passes, the more strongly I get convinced that I do fancy “theatre of game”, unpredictable, not the conventional one, but that of game. For example, here in Kiev, when I had a small playhouse, I put on the stage the performance which I love greatly. It is named “Yurodiya” and based upon the novel “Crime and Punishment”, as if seen with the eyes of the weak-minded.

– It is very interesting ...

– Yes, it was a really interesting experiment. The performance was announced as “Performance-prayer in four parts”, and, of course, every part of it contained a prayer. At that time my friend Boris Tiraspolsky and I were very interested in vocational psychology. And we managed to ascertain that Stanislavsky borrowed all his psycho-technique and all the exercises from the book “Raja Yoga” by Ramacharaka, an American who studied in India. That’s why, at the time, when everything foreign was prohibited, in all theatrical institutes of higher education and technical schools (at those times they existed!) the first-year boys and girls studied raja yoga being unaware of it and thinking that they were taught according to Stanislavsky system.

Later we managed to find out some other things. Thus, our system named “Fire Flower” was born. And when I legalized it, it became known as “Differentiated Functional State” – DFS.

I developed all those methods for the theater, but it turned out that our system can be more widely applied. I used it in the clinic, where I worked with people suffering from sicknesses after the Chernobyl disaster. I also applied it to my work with the highest rank sportsmen. And, in general, I’ve been practicing it myself through all my life.

– Could you describe your system in a few words for people who have never heard of it?

– The main point of the process is the activation of internal resources. The fact is that a person has a huge internal potential, which he practically never uses. And even if he does, then he employs it accidentally. This huge internal potential is accessible. I’ve spent 50 years to discover the essence using various sources and practices. And by doing this I ruined my own reputation. You know, I studied from a Sufi master, I plunged into all sorts of adventures just to try the maximum of the possible in practice. And finally, I managed to extract the information of purely technical nature. Certainly, it is not easy, but it is accessible. It is neither mysticism nor magic; it’s the way into yourself. I follow this way in my own life, as well as in work and creativity.

– When did you take up the fine arts?

– As a stage director, I've put more than sixty plays on stage. And naturally, I have always worked with artists and stage designers. I have always dealt with artists, enjoyed to call on them, to visit their studios, to smell the paints, and to see the works of various genres and styles. But I didn’t draw anything myself.

So many-many-many years passed. At the age of 48 I took up singing. And so the duet named “Zikr” was born, now it celebrates its 20th anniversary next year. And in some 1996 or 1997 – I can’t remember exactly now – I suddenly found fancy in painting in gouache and watercolors. I draw fantastical flowers and other things. But it was not serious. And to be earnest it all started this way. We had a Psychological centre in St. Petersburg, and when the guys were finishing repairing it, I said, “Oh! It would be nice to place a kind of a long picture here. Please, get the surface ready for me and I’ll paint”. But I forgot about it. A month later, they called me and said, “Igor, we have prepared every- thing: paints, brushes and everything is grounded”.

I arrived, reached the second floor, and there was a piece of wood chipboard of immense size, 1 centimeter thick and professionally grounded. The workers found the guys who knew how to make a real ground and bought all the Italian tempera in St. Petersburg. So what could I do? In general, it took me a week to prepare. I had never really painted before. Then, using all the same activation system, with great interest I watched my own hand, that knew which brush to take, how to apply paint, etc. It seemed that my hand knew it all and I just kept the overall intention under control. It was extremely interesting.

Generally speaking, I struggled and struggled, and eventually I painted the picture. I called it “The Bowl”. It traveled in St. Petersburg for a very long time. It appeared in every Centre we opened. And it finally found its owner three or four years ago, when I left St. Petersburg. He took it to his country house and placed it there. He had to drive huge hooks into the wall, because that wood chipboard was a terribly heavy thing.

– How did you make up your mind to continue this experience?

– Once we moved to Lithuania, to Zarasai for the summer. There was a big wonderful wooden house on the lakeshore. And suddenly I said – it’s always interesting for me to hear something in me speaking surprising things: “You know what, guys? Let’s take tempera and canvases with us...” And we did so. We set up the easel. There I gave lessons, talked to people. And I began to paint simultaneously.

– Did you study painting and drawing techniques somewhere?

– I tried to take lessons in St. Petersburg. I found the best teacher. I took one lesson, paid him for three and didn’t attend the lessons anymore. I realized that if I go on learning from him, I would no longer be a painter.

Sure, I read a lot. But almost everything was invented on the spot. My own textures, my own methods. They might have existed long before. But I discovered them for myself and on my own. I kept trying and learned from my own mistakes. Quite soon I started painting in oil. These oils are unique – they are produced by one dutch company. It is called H2O. Such oils can be diluted with water. And they also produce water-soluble lacquer for the oils. It is now my favourite and the one and only oil for the rest of my life.

– In fact, it is a very interesting piece of experience. Only few people, even with inherent abilities and acquired capabilities, will dare become an artist at mature age. The Soviet educational system (and probably not only the Soviet one) erects some kind of invisible barrier between man and art. And frequently, the better education and upbringing a person has, the more insurmountable that barrier is. As I understand, you managed to overcome this inner obstacle.

– Well, all my life I’ve lived with art, music, theater. The theater combines all the aspects: music, painting, costumes, and architecture, and what not. In general, I prefer if ever to do something to do it well. I spent first three years by easel, regardless of my mood, and every single day. I painted something abstract or simply moved the brush on the canvas, matching colors, textures.

– As a psychologist and as a master, do you recommend your students to take up arts?

– No, I don’t. The only thing I recommend is to listen to symphonic music. Because symphonic music is the most complete and direct point of contact to what is called the internal resource. It is a variety of vibrations, and body cells respond to them.

In general, my students make up their own mind what to do. Some of them paint, even exhibit. They try themselves out. But I haven’t seen anyone working 24 hours a day like I do. I am “dipsomaniacal”, and if I want to express something – I announce that I have a “day of the artist”, and do nothing else.

– One of your works is called “Dedication to Van Gogh”. In a number of works one can see references to the works of Modigliani and the Fayum portraits. It is clear that the artist has studied the history of art. What role for your creativity does your acquaintance with the works of distinguished predecessors play?

– A very important one. I believe that there is no inner or personal progress without emotional connection with culture. What is culture? It is something that has overcome time. It is something that tells us not about the things one has done in the surrounding world, but about the person itself, and his inside. And there is so much inside. Of course, some have more influence, some less. For example, Van Gogh or Modigliani, I also loved ecadence, “World of Art”, Mucha, Klimt. It is beautiful. It is exquisite. I like portraits by Kramskoi. I like Dali. He is a genius. But I like his book “Diary of a Genius” even more (laughs). I like expressionists very much, including the American abstract expressionism by Pollock, and others. These are the things that touch me greatly, which I can join emotionally. The last time when I was in London I visited the Frieze Art Fair. I saw lots of trash works there and then, all of a sudden – wow! Something genuine! – and then again trash and trash and trash...

– Well, it’s a fair. It is a big exhibition of everything. For example, Art Basel is generally a trial for human consciousness.

– I didn’t visit Basel. I went to Milan for Milano Internazionale Antiquariato. I also went to Zurich, Switzerland, to Geneva. I need to be able to feel emotional touch to this or that piece of art. For example, I can’t feel emotional touch to a baby mattress cut with a gas burner and poured over with plastic, and it costs 80,000 euro. And I can’t feel the same pride as the gallery owner feels saying that they were lucky to sell 8 of them in London but only 4 here. But if I try hard, I can come up with a concept that childhood is in danger, etc.

– Contemporary art is built up on the eternal opposition of painting and new media: photos, video, and computer graphics. Why did you choose the traditional medium of painting?

– First of all, I take physiological delight in painting. Secondly, as far as I know, oil is the biggest mystery. With all those modern technical means no one can definitely describe the processes going on while the oil is drying out. It is the traditional means that masterpieces of world art were created by. I mean they all overcame ages, lived till now, and we can feel emotional touch to them. No one knows to what things of our time people will be able to feel emotional touch to in 100 years’ time. But I am conservative. I think Man has always been the essence. And the subjective inner world of a man as it is in this case. I have always been interested in this particular person. I do not know why, it just happened so.

– Your interest in Man is reflected in your works, because so many of your works are portraits ...

– Yes, of course. I’ve written more than 400 portraits.

– Do you mostly paint the portraits of your students and friends?

– No, they are just the four hundred people who asked me to make their portraits. I paint only when I’m asked to. In order to formalize the process, we called it art therapy, because people ask a lot of questions while I’m making their portraits. I don’t want a person to sit silent and motionless in front of me for hours. I just ask them not to move for a second from time to time. In general we are talking during the process.

I love it. I do not know where those images which appear on the portraits come from. For example, while portraying one person his “baby-me“ appears. You show him the result and he says, “Oh, I have the same photo; it’s me being 12 years old”. While portraying another person something mature comes up and he says, “Oh, that’s my mom or my dad”. And you start portraying someone with his hair, not his face or eyes. Why does it happen so? There is some kind of mystery between you and the person in the process of portraying; and I appreciate it. This is extremely interesting to me, so I do not raise the price for portraits, so that they remain available for people. And I paint in oil very quickly; you get a color portrait in one session. The next day I’m finished with some technical details, and brush it up, without the person.

– Does it help you to understand Man?

– Oh, I haven’t used such a category as “understand” for twenty years. I try to feel, to experience. Perception of volume – yes, it is a matter of one instant.

– Well, then, how does the portraiture help you feel people?

– Well, I have developed such a habit: when I see a man I try to feel him, to tune in. And then he reveals himself. Every person is a huge world. I’ve been a professional psychologist for so many years, and I still admire Man, Man surprises me. What are all those technical devices opposed to Man? They are just pieces of iron (laughs).

Man is something amazing. I also like space very much, just as it is and all what it is filled with. It is very important to me. I have an old-time romantic love for painting landscapes. I almost never paint from nature. Sometimes I take photos, but it is also just partly the reason. I mostly improvise.

– Recently, abstract motifs have dominated in your works. And in particular, you have created two interesting series - “Wandering Stars” and “The Last Supper”. They are permeated with the same mood. How did you decide to take up abstraction?

– Those are works about space.

– External or internal?

– Space is unique. I take it differently than most people do. Because it sounds for me, it bears some information. And “The Last Supper” has a very strange story. When I was in Milan, I managed to see the famous Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” twice. I wanted to see the original for a long time. I wanted to know what the matter with that picture was. No wonder that this picture is talked about so much. And I was very impressed by this masterpiece. Then I “saw” the project which was called “Last Supper” later on. From that very moment I knew how many canvases there would be, and I knew what the composition would be like. And I also knew that the pictures would be wearing glass frames. But first I said to myself, “I don’t have time for this”. I have it inside, and that’s OK. In a while I was in Lithuania and suddenly I heard myself specifying to my assistants what canvases to order. And my instructions were precise: definite quantity of canvases of a definite size. And I was really impressed. I came back in a few months and saw that the canvases had been delivered. And after three “dipsomaniacal” weeklong periods the project was ready.

– Do you conceptualize your work or just get pleasure from the mechanics of the process?

– Well, it happens very often that I’m sitting, drinking coffee, working on my computer and then a sudden impulse comes to me. I stand up and begin painting, sometimes even without changing clothes – so many clothes perished in oils. And there are pictures that I premeditate. In general, painting is my loneliness, joyful solitude.

– A productive one.

– Yes, and a positive one. At this very moment only a few things exist: me, the canvas, the paint and the brush. And that’s it! And nothing else, and nobody else, even if there is a huge crowd of people sitting next door.

– You are a very energetic artist and, obviously, an energetic person. And what are your favorite colours?

– It depends on what you mean.

– Well, roughly speaking, what pot of paint do you use more often?

– Wine-colour. In general, the color of gore, the color of dark red wine. This is the color I like most of all. Sometimes just for the mood, for self-sensation I take a canvas and paint some fantasy landscape. actually a monochrome one, with different shades of wine colour. It just gives me a sense of satisfaction.

– You are not afraid of pure colors. Some artists believe that, “the more you mix, the greater connection you get”. And pure colors are for the icon-painters and naїve artists.

– It is obvious, that here you can see my love for Petrov-Vodkin. I adore him! He does use icon-painting methods. Anyway, I simply like pure color. I like clarity. In the art of stage direction it is called the diction of behavior. Everything should be clear. You shouldn’t have trouble with some work of art. You shouldn’t think about it too long to understand it. What you need is the clarity. And I don’t like the dirt of mixture. Nobody washes the brushes as often as I do. And it is always clean in my studio, which you can rarely see anywhere else. My friends-painters are very surprised with this when they drop in on me.

– And is your work as a psychologist and art related? Do they interact somehow?

– No, they don’t. I always try to separate one from the other. I say, ”My friends, today I have a day of artist”. To avoid this habit of giving directions, such as “This picture is about this or that”.

– So you disable your inner commentator, don’t you?

– Yes, I do. The main fact in the arts is the image, but not the didactic or concept. For some reasons I am often disappointed with contemporary art... When I see all those installations and so on... Of course there you can find something extraordinary, but mostly you see a concept that is a miserable attempt of mechanical thinking, an attempt to showboat somehow. Sorry for the rude word.

– You can’t help that.

– Yes. I painted a conceptual picture all of a sudden not so long ago. The concept is as follows: I am driving a car, and suddenly I realize that the letter “W” is an inverted “M”, its reflection. And I painted a picture called “Man/Woman”. This “M” is being reflected in water, and it turns into “W”. And there is some other stuff as well. But the texture and color of the background are very interesting. However, none of my clients got interested in it so far... And I understand them. Because it is a pure concept. This is for mind. You can’t feel an emotional touch to it.

– And how do you separate these two spheres of your life? How did you come to this? What is to be done to achieve this?

– You know, there’s an individual, it is a set of social rela- tions. But nobody needs it. Everyone needs a Person.

– That is the mask, isn’t it?,/p>

– Yes, it is. In ancient Greece that was what they called Mask. But now we denote some format by this word. All the society needs is a format and the rest is useless. That’s why we are trying to add the relations of private life to the social interaction. And if you have the skill, you can create those persons using the inside of yourself. And they will be alive. I have a lot of them...

– A lot of persons?

– Yes, of course. There is a practical psychologist, an expert Igor Kalinauskas. There is an artist, he even has another name INK, but that person is also me. There is a musician and a singer Igor Silin. I took this last name in my mother’s honor, that’s her maiden name. There is a specialist in esoterism with the name of Abu Silg. And so on, and so forth. They are not me, they are my creations.

– How much influence did your experience in esoterism have on the person, which was engaged in painting?

– Well, you know, at first I thought so too. But today I can say one thing: there is no esoterism. There was a conspiratorial cryptographic system so that some psychotechnologies were not accessible for the public. And there has always been and always will be such a “human institution”, which deals with the only thing, with human studies. It doesn’t conquer the nature, does not develop the civilization, it just studies what Man is. It is a simple question that cannot be answered. It’s psychology, practical psychology and practical philosophy of the subject.

Why couldn’t I travel abroad during the USSR time? I have never been engaged in politics. I dealt with psychology and philosophy of the subject. There wasn’t a more prohibited topic in the Soviet Union both in art and science. So I was working in the sphere of an “alien” art, an “alien” psychology and an “alien” philosophy.

And then, when there was a great capitalist revolution, it suddenly appeared that there were so few specialists in it. Nobody dealt with it, it was not in demand. And by that time I had gained so much!

– How many books have you written?

– 12 as of today. They have been translated into Lithuanian, Czech and Slovak, three into English, and three into German.

– How important is it for you to chat with fellow artists? Who do you make friends with?

– I have no time to be friends. If he is an author, if he is a creator, he is busy, he sculpts and paints. But when we meet the main thing is the spiritual response. We do not teach each other how to work, we’re just talking. You can like or dislike some paintings or things. But what is important for me is that the person should be the primary source. I want to see this source in his paintings, in his poems, in his songs. I want to see the presence of the person in something that he created. His personal presence.

– Many contemporary artists are indifferent to the manufacture and just like designers they prefer to have their works executed somewhere in China. Have you ever been tempted by such an idea?

– No, I haven’t. I cannot entrust anyone with doing my work.

– They can do everything there in China.

– I cannot entrust someone else with painting the background. This is the alienation of productive forces, according to Marx (laughs).

– Let’s go back to your recent works. How was your technique born? And how do you execute the spherical works?

– You know, I’m done with it. I have worked in this style for many years. What’s the point? Quite a long time ago I found out that a painter should be able to draw a freehand circle. Without a compass. And I began trying. I looked and said: a CD. Or a vinyl disk. I liked the effect. I think I should spread a rumour if processed with laser it can play music. For me, the top of abstraction is music and improvisation. And here is the same thing – the music of space, so to say. Now I am interested in other things.

– What kind of things?

– Now I have the period of “pearls and gold”, as I call it. And the texture. Well, let’s see what comes out... By now it’s five works - a triptych and two large independent two-meter works.

– Does Igor Kalinauskas the artist have many admirers?

– Quite a few. If taking into account the portraits I painted to order, then I have at least 400 admirers. And as for the pictures... There three serious collectors only in Slovakia.

– And what connects you with Slovakia?

– It just happened so.

– How did it happen that you got there?

– My friend and student from Kiev Alexander Vinogradny got there somehow; he began to teach in the city of Zilina. I came to him. Slovakia is a wonderful country. First of all, it is the Slavs. And they are Catholics. And also they are europeans, and peasants. They have virgin nature there. There is a huge number of extant and ruined castles. Two or three hundred years ago money was coined for the whole of Europe in Kremnica. Wow! There is a great church! Now it is given to the Franciscans. There is an abandoned Graveyard with grass up to your waist. And there you can find cast-iron headstones, and none of them is gloomy. I painted thirty and they all were sold like hot cakes. In Slovakia, St. Petersburg and Moscow. Why? They are lively. There is iron casting of the end of XVIII – the beginning of IXX century, and a church. We found a person who was responsible for its maintainance. He opened it for us. The church did not function at that time, I did not even know for how many years, since the city’s last mine was closed. It was clean in side for sure. There was a painted wooden sculpture. There was also an altar icon named “Meeting of Jacob and baby Jesus”, a huge one, painted in oil. There were only two babies on that picture, two little boys. And on the altar – the sculpture of two dancing miners wearing glad-rags of that time. It was incredibly beautiful. And it was a church. Nothing was stolen. Nothing was damaged. Two years later I got there again I saw that the Graveyard was cleaned, everything was looked after. I don’t know why, but the Franciscans built a hostel nearby there. Later I even made a donation for those Franciscans. This is a very special place.

– Where do you live permanently nowadays?

– The only thing I can say for sure is that I haven’t stayed for more than 4 days at one place since last September. But to be honest, I was in Bratislava for 6 days before I came here in Kiev. I live on board of the plane.

– Where do you travel?

– The route is simple: Bratislava–Moscow–Kiev–London.

– How do you find time to paint? Where are your studios situated?

– You know, it's like in that anecdote: we surprise ourselves. In Bratislava my friends rented a very good studio in an old house on the second floor with the ceiling 4 meters high.

Ideal conditions for work. And in Lithuania I have a farm house. There I wrote the “Last Supper”. In Moscow there is a studio. However, I haven't worked there for a long time. But there are so many of my works, my panels in different styles are on all doors. There are “Four Elements”, “Earth”, “Air”, “Water”, and “Fire”, in the hallway.

– And what is your connection with Kiev?

– Oh! Kiev is a very important city for me! I first appeared in Kiev, when I was in blacklist. I couldn’t find job anywhere, and I had a baby son. I had a small theatre in Kiev for some time.

– And what was it called?

– At first it was called the ”The 16th madman”. So funny, as if there were 16 madmen. And then it was called something like “Fire Flower”.

– And what year was it?

– It was in 1992, I think. The theatre existed for some time, but then our sponsor let us down and it was over.

– Do you continue to work as a stage director? Do you fell like shooting a movie?

– Yes, I do.

– And what will it be about?

– It will be about rabbits. About people-rabbits (laughs).

– Something like video art. And you say that you are not interested in video art.

– No, rabbits – it's a name in soviet style. I mean it is going to be a movie about people taking part in experiments, tests. I know this sphere very good, I worked as such a volunteer “rabbit” for about three years. It is a very strange world.

– How interesting.

– Once I even wrote a scenario application. Balayan liked it. We wanted to start shooting. But we didn’t find money at that time.

– So you are a multi-dimensional person. Are you practically a man of the Renaissance type?

– Well, yes. There were Titans of the Renaissance, and I am a “dwarf” of the Renaissance.

– What would you like to achieve in your artistic creativity? What is your maximum project?

– Nothing. Nothing. Maximum – it is the minimum. I just enjoy the process. And if I stop getting pleasure from creativity, I will consider that I have no right to take it up.

"Ah!" Catalog review, London, 2012

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