Jure Kastelic initially approached an artistic practice through the medium of photography before being drawn down other paths such as sculpture and painting. Recently his work has centered on the subculture of the online cryptocurrency community. Check it out, and make sure to find more at the links following the Q&A!
Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I was born in Slovenia, moved to Brighton when I was 19 to study photography and after that I moved to London where I currently live and work for a contemporary art gallery 4 days a week. I co-founded an art festival called Fotopub in 2014 then left after 3 years in order to concentrate on my own work.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
When I was 13 I sent a photograph to National Geographic Slovenia and won their 1st prize in one of the competitions. As a prize I got a fancy camera and continued taking photos. The following summer I applied for a week long photography course in my hometown in Slovenia where I first saw conceptual photography – like Ruscha, Baldessari. I was hooked. 5 years later when I graduated from high school I moved to Brighton to study photography. There I realised I’m not really interested in photography but art in general.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
After getting the degree my practice became more diversified as I finally got my own studio space. I started expanding into video, painting, and sculpture, which I didn’t formally study. At the same time I discovered bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and cypherpunks ideas and started reading everything I could find online. I wasn’t really thinking how I could apply these to my art practice, it was more about the rush I felt the deeper I was falling into the rabbit hole of crypto.
For the last few months I’ve been making paintings about the crypto community and its manifestations online. The title of this ongoing series of works (New Alchemy) references alchemy which aims were, among others, to transmute base metals into noble metals – particularly lead into gold. With the invention of bitcoin and advancements of blockchain, a sequence of numbers and letters transmuted into an accepted medium of exchange / store of value – essentially becoming digital gold. It caused a proper digital gold fever that has been going on ever since.
What is your process like?
I’m following crypto daily. My Twitter, Telegram, Discord, Bitcointalk, Reddit, 4chan feeds are polluted with memes of feelsgoodman, crypto prayers, the frog, announcements of pumps and dumps, Hayek’s political visions… This is my daily research. When something sticks with me for a few days I start making sketches and test them with my girlfriend. I work on one work per time as I utterly obsess with it until it’s done. Usually it takes about a week from an idea to the end result, I move on quickly with maybe a few corrections afterwards. When I find something to work on I try to articulate it first in order to describe it to my friends that are not so familiar with crypto. If they find it interesting then I execute the idea.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
It’s not really one piece of advice, it is the realisation from the experience of working in a contemporary art gallery in London that brought a more realistic sense of how to survive as a young artist. I started focusing more on what interests me in my non-arty life and only then applying it to my practice. I think I can be more sincere this way what my practice is about.
What is your studio like?
I had a proper studio in London for about 2 years. When I moved house I turned it into storage, and continued working at home so that I don’t have to commute, or freeze to death during winters. I find this setup a lot more productive and comfortable.
What do you find most daunting, challenging, or frustrating about pursuing art?
I found it frustrating when I wanted too much as soon as possible. Slow growth is better. I’m content now.
What are three words you would use to describe your work?
Web, crypto, memes
What are you working on right now?
I just borrowed a honey badger taxidermy for a photoshoot with my gf and my brother that is inspired by this picture
Anything else you would like to add?