INTERVIEW | Ala Leresteux's Tree Series

Lithuanian-born artist, Ala Leresteux has been catching the eye of many with her ornate illustrations that cause viewers to stop and contemplate the depth of their beauty and meaning. SAPERE had only taken notice about four months ago and knew that speaking to this artist would be insightful. While obtaining a degree in philosophy and being an avid reader, Leresteux states that authors such as Julio Cortazar, Herman Hesse, Umberto Eco, Thomas Mann and Yasunari Kawabata have influenced her style just as much as the Lithuanian folklore she grew up with.  Here Leresteux discusses her love for surrealism, travels and what beauty consists of. According to her it is, "a feeling of harmony and piercing precision. You can see it in a human face."


Can you tell us a little bit about your artistic background and what first inspired you to create art? 

I've studied art in Paris at l'Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts, but art actually is my second specialty. After completing a master's degree in Philosophy, I came to Paris without a clear plan for future, but destiny had sent me a sign in the shape of very bare walls in my apartment. At first, it was just a hobby, listening to music and shaping my thoughts on the walls but one day I went to Amsterdam and had an unforgettable experience. I remember that I was looking at one of the paintings of Breigel and felt that I knew precisely how it is done. That feeling never left me. Unfortunately, my epiphany did not give me immediate skills. For them, I went to Art School and I am still trying to put my skills on the same level with my vision and that is probably what inspires me the most.

How would you describe your genre?

I would like to think that my work is a part of the magical realism, but probably it isn't true. In reality it's closer to surrealism, aleatoric or oneiric art. I surely hope that I will manage to create my own genre but I don't know yet how I will name it yet.  

Which themes do you attempt to pursue in your art?

I am very interested in philosophy, biology, chemistry and physics. Much of my work is connected to scientific concepts. Right now I feel very passionate about trees and research connected to their ability to communicate through fungal network. I am working on series of paintings dedicated to trees and their role in mythology and in our everyday life. Some of my pieces are portraits of famous trees, like tree of Tenere and Methuselah.

 What techniques do you use to achieve your end result and are there any techniques you’d like to start incorporating into your images?

 My favorite technique is stippling, but I am also using cross-hatching. I paint with acrylics and sometimes use collages. Right now I am working on transformable paintings; they consist of two or more different parts and by moving those parts you can alter the final image, they can be printed on magnetic paper and placed on iron net for the owner of the work to be able to change image by himself.

Being born and raised in Vilnius, Lithuania, what are some traditions and cultural elements that impact your art?

 I think Lithuanian folklore and mythology affected me a lot, gave me deep respect to the nature and feeling of everything around me. Generally, feeling of mystery and magic is very strong in Vilnius, I always felt that reality does not really exist there; I never felt it that strong in any other city.

Where have you traveled for your art and how has your travels allow you to grow both as an artist and as a person?

 I've had exhibitions all over Europe and in a few locations in Asia, India, Hong Kong and Japan. Each time I've  been there, I've learned something new about the art world. I've met very interesting people who allowed me to see what I do from new angles. I think it is very difficult to notice changes when you are a part of it, but it is very possible that I am a totally different human being than I was before some of my travels.


What are some of your favorite art galleries and museums worldwide?

I love museum of Dali in Figeiros, Cluny in Paris and museum of Mayakovsky in Moscow. My all time favorite museum is Disneyland. I would like all museums to be more interactive and challenging.

Who has had the biggest influence on your style?

 My favorite artists are Rene Magritte and M.C. Escher and I think they both influenced my style and my idea of what it is to be an artist. I love to read so I think my favorite writers influenced my style as well, especially Julio Cortazar, Herman Hesse, Umberto Eco, Thomas Mann and Yasunari Kawabata.

If you could define the relationship between wisdom & beauty, how would you do so?

 For me beauty is a feeling of harmony and piercing precision, you can see it in a human face, a geometric figure or just an abstract idea. Wisdom is the ability to see this precision everywhere, but art of seeing is the trickiest one.