Kristians Brekte’s work deals with the everlasting themes of life, death, religion, and sexuality. His subject matter is often dark, graphic, and even grotesque, as his work refuses to lie within any boundaries and hide anything. Brekte’s graphic and very free painting style may have been drawn from his previous experience as a graffiti artist. Brekte’s work is bold, experimental, and provokes powerful reactions, as viewers are transported into the surreal, dark, perverse, and imaginative world Brekte creates.
Kristians Brekte was born in May of 1981 in Riga, Latvia. He graduated from the Riga Design and Art School in 2002, and went on to study at the Department of Stage Design of Latvian Academy of art. Brekte has had his work exhibited throughout Latvia, and he has participated in group exhibitions in Lithuania, New York, Germany, Italy, France, and Czech Republic.
In works such as Judgement Day, Brekte depicts a lifeless female head, ripped from her body, dangling by her hair from the bony grasp of a skeletal hand, one we can presume to belong to Death himself. Shaded with turquoise and rose hues, this image, while jarring, also conveys a certain softness of the artist’s hand; both the bloody skull and cold skeletal hand are caressed with the soft touch of watercolors. Brekte portrays a perverted reality, one that exists in a world imbibed with explicit horror. He lets his watercolors flirt with binary relationships of gentle and violent, beauty and grotesque, life and death.
courtesy of the artist
Other works like First Date, capture a nude girl with a loli pop and recently born baby. Her face is a hollowed skeleton. Her pre-pubescent body is emaciated and gangly. Her attitude is ambivalent as she dangles the baby by her fingers, gazing towards the viewer, replete with loli pop in the other hand. As the title implies, the child appears to be the result of a hasty, sexual encounter. Upon making the connection, our gaze is filled at once with contrasting emotions of disdain and humor. The girl is unmoved by the entire experience which captures the abounding indifference and apathy of youth today. Intrigued by Bretke’s disturbing and enthralling works, I inquired to find out more.
Jill Smith: What made you stop doing graffiti art and switch to painting on canvases?
Kristians Brekte: I have always worked with both of these techniques. There have never been only graffiti artists to whom I devote all of my attention and I have never seen myself as a strictly street artist. I guess I was more interested in stencils while I was still studying at the art academy, because I was trying to explore the range with which I could reach with the words that I wanted to spread with my art. Painting has been a major part of my life since I was little, I have always enjoyed the process; experimenting with materials and themes. For me there is no dividing line between graffiti and painting, I often still use stencils in my canvases.
JS: Where do you draw inspiration from?
KB: Inspiration, in my opinion, is something very similar to thinking: you suck up all the useful information all around you and absorb it. Nature—and people as a major part of it—the whole process of human life is very inspirational. We’re getting closer to our death from the very moment we experience birth. I’m not the kind of artist that uses meditation, dreams or some kind of esoteric experiences or just lets my art be decorative. The reality is important and surprisingly it seems to be more horrifying than any of us could ever imagine. And I think that art is supposed to cause emotions whether it’s good or bad, to change something, to make people think and maybe learn some lesson.