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Memphis style art objects “Bullfinch”

There is one 9-letter word that sounds absolutely inseparable from Christmas – tradition. And now comes the tricky part that not everyone thinks about – tradition brings us the greatest joy when paired with surprises.

This is the category that my latest art objects fall into – surprises and amazement. And it is the reason why a bunch of Memphis style art objects “Bullfinch” recently “landed” in the Unity Square in Kaunas and became easily accessible to all the people passing by. You can see the birds day and night – thanks to their height (almost 3 meters), contrasting colours and special evening lights that enhance the whole scene.

2020 was – how shall I put it nicely? – an unexpected year. So the usual festive attributes didn’t sit well with me. The last thing I wanted to see was yet another Christmas tree, surrounded by a deer, a sledge, and a handful of snowflakes. I was leaning towards stylized art that would evoke stronger emotions than just a polite smile. I feel people deserve something more than standard shiny decorations – and not only during the holidays.

Although the birds’ theme has always been close to my heart, I didn’t get the idea of bullfinches right away. Then one day, I accidentally saw a sleek shape of a tiny bird with super intense colours – and the “Aha!” moment hit. I prepared the first draft of the design, then another one and the entire Memphis-style-inspired art piece was finished in four months.

Memphis design movement

People often ask about the inspiration for my art. I see my festive sculptures as an interpretation of the Memphis style – the famous ’80s design movement that is now making a huge comeback among influencers and artists.

It was invented in 1981, when a group of young designers gathered in a tiny Milan apartment one December night and decided to create a new style, challenging the status quo, the strict and well-structured modernism. The group listened to Bob Dylan’s “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again” – that’s how the Memphis name was born.

Memphis design movement quickly took off. The artists mostly stayed in the furniture realm, although they also applied the principles to other design objects. Memphis style was very much on display until 1988 when the creators decided to go their separate ways.

As an artist, I love that this design movement is back in the spotlight with its Art Deco geometric shapes, deafening Pop Art colours, and “pleasingly distasteful” kitsch vibes. For a creator, it’s like a never-ending game where simplicity meets vibrant energy. The result is bold, even eccentric. There’s always room for surprise in Memphis style – maybe that’s why I never get bored.

What was Memphis style art?

Memphis designers were always fearless in going against the grain. They had a sweet spot for cheap plastic and enjoyed a messy mix of patterns and colours. Memphis style art dismissed the rules of traditional art, viewing them as too plain and boring.

Wacky geometry? Bring it on. Nobody says that chair legs must be rectangular – we can try triangles and circles instead. A mishmash of rainbow colours? Yes, please. In the unconventional world of Memphis, the combination of red, blue and yellow could certainly go together.

I believe my Memphis-style-inspired project “Bullfinch” was perfect for a bright, distinctive city like Kaunas. The art organically blended into the modern recently renovated Unity Square near the “BLC” business centre. Festive bullfinches also found their cosy place in Vilnius, “Green Hall” business valley, and the business centre “135”.

I love staging public places with art. I’m certain such projects have the potential to elevate popular spaces to a new aesthetic level, enriching them with liveliness and excitement. And I will continue supporting endeavours that bring art closer to people – without requiring huge effort on their part.

The better I know myself as a creator, the more I realize that any formal, precise representation of reality is not my cup of tea. I often remember Françoise Sagan’s saying that art must take reality by surprise. If I managed to create even a small surprise with my latest project, I already got my perfect Christmas gift. 🙂