WADA Member Artist Jim Gigurtsis' art provokes his viewers by taking the familiar and using a variety of media and techniques to express his emotions and feelings. His work strikes a common chord with his audience through unexpected means. Though his preferred medium is oil painting, he has also used video and installations for his expressions. Recent themes for his work have included explorations of decay and re-generation, as well as some of the issues currently facing Americans.
Jim is very active in the St. Pete arts scene teaching and working daily in his studio. His work has been exhibited extensively and can be found in a number of private and public collections in England, Ireland, Norway, Greece, Canada and the USA.
We asked Jim about his creative process, his inspirations and what he's currently working on. Read on for the details of his current exhibit at the Bilmar Resort Hotel on Treasure Island and his upcoming contribution in Creative Pinellas' Arts Annual.
How long have you been an artist?
I started painting part-time around 2004 and full-time at the end of 2016.
What is your medium and how did you arrive at it?
I am a multi-discipline artist and my work ranges from painting to video to installations. The choice of medium depends on how best a medium works to express my thoughts and emotions. On occasion I use multiple mediums in the same project to reflect the different perspectives of a subject. For example, I recently used portraits together with a video to depict non-verbal communication via Morse code.
I have tried different mediums from watercolour to gauche to acrylics to oils, but oils give me the flexibility to push and pull the composition until I am happy with the result. Oils on canvas or linen is my preferred medium for paintings. For commissions, I always use raw linen that I stretch and prepare myself. At times I even grind my own pigments.
What inspires your art?
My inspiration comes from my surroundings, events, and news, in addition to my personal experiences and travels. My art expresses my thoughts, emotions and dreams to evoke an emotional bond with the viewer. I create a visual comfort zone for the viewer by using recognizable images, but then juxtapose these images by adding and subtracting lines, shapes and colour to stir the viewer’s visual and visceral responses.
Recent work is driven by themes such as “Mortality” or “Decay and Re-generation”. I research my themes history, chronology and then depict what the theme makes me feel rather than copy an image or paint an illustration. For example, for the mortality theme I created a triptych which reflects the three top death rates: obesity, opioids and smoking. Titled “3 of Too Many” each panel is an oil painting on canvas with added objects such as pills, cigarettes and doughnuts.
Decay and Re-generation is a subject that intrigues me as it is a process we all go through on a daily basis. I am depicting human existence at a moment in time where there is contradiction between what is visually expected and my depiction of the essence of the person. For this subject it is all about allowing my emotions and feelings to drive the composition.
Are you a St. Petersburg native?
I moved to Pinellas County from Europe four years ago. Prior to the pandemic, I was in St. Petersburg every week enjoying arts and cultural activities and also teaching an “Expressive Still Life” course at the Morean Arts Center every Monday.
How is it being an artist in St. Petersburg?
St. Petersburg has a very supportive community for the arts and artists. There are a lot of cultural events, art events and art galleries as well as some amazing music and theatre venues. There are also a lot of opportunities for artists to work with others and to engage the community to participate. The “Second Saturday Art Walk” is just one example of an event that I enjoy.
Why did you join the Warehouse Arts District Association?
I wanted to meet other artists, collaborate, network and exchange ideas. WADA is a great organisation that actively promotes collaboration and supports networking.
Can you tell us a little about your creative process?
I work daily in my studio developing ideas. There is not day that goes by where I am not either creating art, studying art or selling art. Some of my time is spent understanding client requirements and discussing compositions for portraiture commissions.
I also work with my collectors going through my art to choose the pieces they like. I tend to meet collectors either through word of mouth or because they have seen one of my commissioned portraits.
Is there anything coming up that you would like to promote, any new works?
My website is www.gigurtsis.com. I developed and maintain the website and I photograph and upload my work to the website. On the website you will also find a dedicated gallery for the latest work, as well as, information on workshops and courses. To view the comprehensive collection, please visit the website.
I have had the pleasure of participating in many exhibitions over the years in both the U.S. and Europe. With the support of Creative Pinellas, I am currently exhibiting a number of my atmospheric landscapes at the Bilmar Hotel Resort, Treasure Island. These are on display around the reception area of the hotel. I hope you can make the trip to see them.
I am also working on a number of exciting new pieces that will be exhibited at Creative Pinellas’ Annual Art Exhibition. These works further explore the subject of Decay and Re-generation and also address some of the challenges we are currently facing in the USA. I hope you can all come and see the work at the Gallery at Creative Pinellas November 12th to December 20th.
I teach portraiture courses. One course is focused on tools and techniques I developed for capturing the likeness of a person for a portrait. This is a 6 week course, with 3 hours per week, using a life model. By the end of the course each artist will have completed at least two portraits.
At the Morean Arts Center every Monday night I teach an “Expressive Still Life” course. I give demonstrations on still life and portraiture painting techniques to groups of artists and give private art lessons in my studio.
Information for the courses and demonstrations can be found on my website under “Resources.”
Oil on flat Canvas
16 x 20
Oil on Canvas
30 x 24
3 of Too Many (Triptych)
Oil on Canvas, Cigarettes, Pills, Artificial Donuts, Glue
The Desperate Man, Interpretation of "Le Desespere" by Gustave Courbet (1819 - 1877)
Oil on Linen, Eyelets, Hooks45x32