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Art Lithuania

© Skaitmeninio Vaizdo Ložė
© Alfonsas Andriuskevicius, Agne Gintalaite, Jolita Liskeviciene, Vaidilute Lukauskiene, Birute Pankunaite, Ausra Poskute, Egle Rindzeviciute
© Jurga Verikiene

Changes in the painting of the end of sixties and the beginning of seventies. The generation of J.Svazas

The radicalism of the beginning of seventies: V.Kisarauskas and V.Antanavicius

The tendency of deromanticising: A.Kuras, K.Dereskevicius, A.Saltenis, A.Svegzda

Between everyday and cosmic symbolism: R.Vaitekunas and L.Katinas

Interior to the painting, painting to the interior: R. Katiliute and D. Kasciunaite

A. Martinaitis (Empty yet)

A. Svegzda

Pillars of abstractionism: K.Zimblyte and E.A.Cukermanas

Postmodernism of S. Sauka (Empty yet)

H.Natalevicius and B.Grazys

Senseless Parade. Identified: R. Slizys

A.Paukste

Modifikuotas ekspresionizmas: G.P.Janonis, R.Bartkevicius (Empty yet)

Painting is receding: object, installation, performance and video are coming

The new wave of painting: J.Barilaite, V.Marcinkevicius, L.Cicenas

Performances

Installation attempts

 

CHANGES IN THE PAINTING OF THE END OF SIXTIES AND THE BEGINNING OF SEVENTIES.
THE GENERATION OF SVAZAS

Communist regime, established after the Second World War in Lithuania, subordinated art to the communist ideology. Not only the themes of art works, but also the form of them were regulated. Academic naturalism, the so-called "social realism", became the official art doctrine. The Lithuanian art was isolated from the Western European art development; the traditions of the national Lithuanian painting school were suppressed.

In the second part of sixties, after the cult of Stalin's personality was denounced, there began the "thaw" of regime. The so-called generation of 1956 - Jonas Svazas, Aloyzas Stasiulevicius, Jonas Ceponis, Silvestras Dziaukðtas, Vincas Kisarauskas, Valentinas Antanavicius began to express themselves in the art of that time. Their creative work is related to beginning of the new stage in the Lithuanian art - the post-war modernism.

This generation of artists liberated the painting speech from the social realism, they formulated and legitimated the new aesthetics - the modern plastic speech. The spiritual relations were revived with the creative works of the group ARS, which had the direct connections with the French painting tradition of the 20th century (the group worked in the inter-war period in independent Lithuania).

Jonas Svazas, who worked as a section chairman of Young Artists in the Union of Artists in 1953-1959, became one of the most important participants of the period: he managed to amortize the relations between the power and the young reformers. In the creative work of Svazas, the plastic ideas of expressionism are of great importance. Color, texture, broad and generalised painting, subjectively treated nature are the main features of his expression.

Aloyzas Stasiulevicius, the painter of city landscape, looking for the more relative city image, became interested in textures, began experimenting with different materials. "The Wall" by Stasiulevicius, exhibited in the Exhibition of Young Painters in 1966, arose almost political scandal. This creative work - a parabola about the experience of closed society - was performed in the technique of collage, a new one in Lithuania. In his later works, the artist developed the possibilities of collage, and this technique became the way of plastic thinking.

In the beginning of sixties, the coloristic trend of the Lithuanian art was formed. The most outstanding its representative Jonas Ceponis express his emotional relation to nature using bright and contrasting colors, characteristic to the French fauvists of the 20th century. One of the most interesting works of the period was "The Red Cow", distinguished by the brave picturesque treating.

The plastic art speech was enriched by assemblage, introduced by Vincas Kisarauskas, and later it took especially expressive power in the creative works of Antanavicius.

The organising of international art exhibitions was the important fact in the Lithuanian art life of sixties. Lithuanian paintings were demonstrated in Paris, Germany, Bulgaria, Canada, Yugoslavia, Japan, etc. The Western European museums of art and the galleries of modern art (such as Sezan Gallery in Canes, Dr. Ludwig Gallery of Modern Art in Koln) are interested in the works of Lithuanian painters and include them into their collections.

JONAS CEPONIS. He was born in 1926. In 1944-1951, he studied painting in the studio of Prof. Antanas Gudaitis in the Institute of Art in Vilnius. Since 1951, the artist participates in exhibitions. He held 21 personal exhibitions in Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Moscow, Germany, USA. He participated in more than 80 group exhibitions. In 1980-1989, Ceponis worked as a lecturer in the Institute of Art in Vilnius, in 1988 he was conferred a degree of professor. The works of the painter are exhibited in the Lithuanian Museum of Art, Ciurlionis Museum, Sezan Museum in Canes (France), Royal Academy of Arts in London, Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, in the National Galleries of Moscow, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Latvia. Jonas Ceponis paints figure compositions, still life, portraits, landscapes and abstractions. "Emotionality, intensity of colors, generalization and decorativeness is the plastic speech of my works. The content of a picture is created by the plastic elements of form - the color is the most valuable of them for me. I attempt to free the color from the servitude to things" /Ceponis/. The artist paints with the passion characteristic to fauvists, and reaches the stained-glass sonority of color.

ALOYZAS STASIULEVICIUS. He was born in 1931. In 1950-1956, he studied painting in the Institute of Art in Vilnius. Since 1956 he participates in exhibitions. He held about 16 personal exhibitions in Lithuania and abroad - Finland, Poland, Estonia, Ukraine, and Moscow. In 1976-1979, he worked as a lecturer of painting in the Institute of Art in Vilnius. Stasiulevicius' works are exhibited in Lithuanian Museum of Art, Ciurlionis Museum, Sezan Museum in Canes (France), Museum of Modern Art in Köln (the collection of Ludwig, Germany), Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, Sharjah Museum in Arabian Emirates, in National Galleries of Latvia and Ukraine. In his works, Aloyzas Stasiulevicius meditates the idea of a city, revealing different archetypes of it. The artist works in the collage technique - "installates" the space of a painting with various materials, shreds of paper. He is an initiator of collage in the Lithuanian art.

JONAS SVAZAS (1925-1976). In 1953, he graduated from the Painting Department of Institute of Art, Vilnius. In 1957, he started to participate in exhibitions. He had four personal exhibitions in Lithuania, and four exhibitions were held after his death - in Austria, Sweden, Moscow, Vilnius. Svazas participated in group exhibitions in different countries of the world. In 1953-1976, he worked as a lecturer of painting in the Institute of Art in Vilnius. The works of the painter are exhibited in the Lithuanian Museum of Art, the Ciurlionis Museum, the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, the Russian Museum in St-Petersburg, the Museum of Modern Art in Koeln (the collection of Ludwig), in the National Galleries of Germany, Czech Republic, Latvia. "In my works, the great role is performed by a decorative element /…/, some colorful spots play the main role here. For me, the questions of intensity of colors are very important" (Svazas). Painting broadly, in generalized forms, the artist is very close to the abstract.

© A.Poskute

THE RADICALISM OF THE BEGINNING OF SEVENTIES: KISARAUSKAS AND ANTANAVICIUS


In the end of sixties - in the beginning of seventies the Lithuanian painting was back to the orbit of modernism, from which it was hurled out in Stalin times. This rehabilitation was performed mainly by the generation of Jonas Svazas (other remarkable representatives of this generation are Karatajus, Ceponis, Dziaukðtas, Gecas, Jusionis, Stasiulevicius). They accomplished three important jobs: began to emphasize the specific speech of painting, receded from the canons of academic naturalism, stimulated the expression of author's subjectivism, revived Lithuanian painting's contacts with the modernism phenomena of the world (in Svazas' works, one could notice Soulages' influence, in Ceponis' works - influence of fouvists, etc.). "Paying" for the relatively larger freedom in the field of form, these authors used the plot and themes admissible by ruling class: they painted constructions, industrial objects, Soviet activists. The artists were prudent enough while interpreting the human figure (the only exception is some of the works of Dziaukðtas).

Two younger authors - Kisarauskas and Antanavicius, still belonging to the same generation, could be treated as much more radical artists. Choosing themes and plots, they almost do not use any means that would compensate, in the eyes of the ruling power, their drastic treating of form. The main character of their paintings is a human figure. Its is deformed to extreme, and, surely, to the extreme ugliness, not beauty. We can often see not only deformation of figure, but also its deconstruction, use of oxymoron principle. The atmosphere in Kisarauskas' works is dramatic, while it is ironical in Antanavicius' paintings. They were first to use intensively the technique of assemblage. In the works of Kisarauskas and Antanavicius, we can find linkups with dada and surrealism, the especially disliked features by the Soviet authorities.

The main part of their works was banned till the nineties.

© A.Andriuskevicius

THE TENDENCY OF DEROMANTICISING: KURAS, DERESKEVICIUS, SALTENIS, SVEGZDA Here, romanticizing, romantics are supposed to mean not a relationship with romanticism (the kind of art in the first part of 19th century), but the specific visionary position of an artist, inclined to ennoble the imitative world.
So, the representatives of Jonas Svazas generation (except Kisarauskas and Antanavicius) moved the Lithuanian painting towards romantics. Although you can see a lot of buildings and industrial establishments in their works, you cannot feel the brutal atmosphere of hard work, wholesale destruction of nature, etc. Making the forms abstract, choosing rich and conciliate colors, Svazas and his colleagues create the ennobled and a little exotic picture.

At that time, the other generation (the outstanding its representatives are Kuras, Dereðkevicius, Saltenis, Svegzda) chooses the other way. First of all, they change the object of portrayal: vulgarize it. In Kuras' canvases, there dominate pieces of iron instead of constructions, in Svegzda's paintings - plastic pails and pasteboard boxes instead of industrial gigants. This way, they ruin the elevation, an indispensable attribute of romanticism. Dereðkevicius and Saltenis exploit human figures, but not in accordance with the laws that could help to stimulate the romantic feelings of a spectator: Dereðkevicius' figures look as extremely everyday ones, and Saltenis' figures seem disturbed and ugly. Instead of luxurious paint of earth tones (Svazas, Ceponis) or sparkling silver (Stasiulevicius), there come a gloomy range of colours (Kuras, Saltenis) and chemical accords (Svegzda).
The paintings "have a smell" of dust-heaps, grease, petrol, chemical materials. A spectator, seeking for romantic impressions, could hardly stand it.

© A.Andriuskevicius

BETWEEN EVERYDAY AND COSMIC SYMBOLISM: VAITEKUNAS AND KATINAS

The painters of Kuras' generation, participating in the action of deromanticizing in eighties, at the same time desymbolized imitative objects. Especially, that could be said about the works of Svegzda and Dereðkevicius. But in the same generation there also were some painters who decidedly chose symbol for their works. Such painters are Ricardas Vaitekûnas and Linas Katinas.

The former is especially interested in the objects of an old Lithuanian village. In his works, we can find a log-wall, a scythe, a garden scarecrow, a wooden fence, etc. Vaitekunas uses the painting manner of expressionism and the principles of life deforming. Sometimes, a spectator could treat the objects shown in his works, in different ways. Here, the principle of "double image", used by symbolists and surrealists, helps the author much: in your eyes a log-wall with small windows becomes a face, a garden scarecrow transforms to a hanged or running out person, etc. There is created the metamorphosis world of different shapes (this is due to the especially specific author's painting and his system of colors), where even objects painted not under the principle of "double image", gain a status of symbol.

The other author, Linas Katinas, is standing with his head tossed to the sky and his eyes looking into the distance. All he sees are plaits of symbols, too. "Double image" helps him, as well we can see here how a hill becomes an egg, and the egg becomes a human head, how a face turns into the earthly or the cosmic landscape, and how this landscape turns into the egg again, and the latter is transformed into the entrance from the dark space into the light.

The works of Ricardas Vaitekûnas and Linas Katinas suggest that there are a lot of possibilities on the earth and in the sky, and there are cosmic and other powers that "play" with the world. These feelings were not pleasing to the Soviet authorities when having power in all the fields.

© A.Andriuskevicius

INTERIOR TO THE PAINTING, PAINTING TO THE INTERIOR: KATILIUTE AND KASCIUNAITE

Katiliûte and Kasciûnaite the outlines of their creative work felt in the middle of eighththe decade in the very beginning of their career. Resisted from the landscape imagining reality a little bit they plunged to the water of endless abstraction.

Kasciûnaite belongs to the artists who leans, continues and renovates Lithuanian painting traditions .In the beginning of her creative work she was choosing the colors of earth which were growing braver, the manner of painting became expressive, the manner of execution became eloquent. The paintings of Dalia are impulsive, passionate and suggestive by very rich coloring.
The abstraction of Rûta is different, she relies no upon passion but contemplation, no upon effect but lyric. Searching for coloring she narrows till endless blue monochromic .In early abstractions a hint to real landscape emerges. She paints roughly, emphasizing the plane by extensive dabs. Later on the planes overflow each other, bantering and space appears. Creative work of Katiliûte overcomes the traditional frames of painting .As Jurenaite noticed intercourse of the painting and the object and even installations remind the paintings of middle Europe artists. That's not the process where the object denies the painting but sequent transformation, even synthesis.

The works of these two abstractionists show opposition of fundamental differences when trying to fit them to interior.

In every interior you can find the place for Kasciûnaite's work .Its warmth by way of concurrence, difference or accent will be compatible to the place always. The painting of Dalia can't be left imperceptible, unrecognized; it would be important, striking and encirclementined by iron order or disorder, covered by dust or damped by the smoke, brightly enlighted by the sun or electricity or may be just will flash by gold in candles' twilight.

The blue of Katiliûte is more capricious .It is the space demanding another space. If the interior can't give the comfort to the painting it will be offended and became invisible .The interior must adapt to the painting or withdraw leaving only quite walls. Only then the painting will indemnify all losses by endless quietness and inexhaustible source of blue meditation.

© A.Gintalaite

ANTANAS MARTINAITIS

 

ALGIMANTAS SVEGZDA (1941-1996)

The way of a pilgrim is real .His legs is true with the light blue veins and naps, it feel the sharpness of a high road stones and clods of mud, it feel a splinter sticking to the interfingers. The task of the pilgrim's way is unreal. It is the metaphysic surrounding or the God who appears when crosses the personal psychic state and the general paradigm's ideology and the light. But the pilgrims way don't means physic to metaphysic because the task of metaphysic can't be measured by a kilometer to a time unit. Every stone, every clod of earth, every ear of corn gets exchanged after felt under the legs of a prayer and become a body with a new context, that means- a body which has an idea or feeling how to reach the task and this feeling surrounds the body as well the soul surrounds the human being.

Svegzda has created the contemporary means of pilgrim's style of life by catching the crops of reality with metaphysic net.

At Lithuanian painting of eight decade arose the tendency of deromantisation which approximated ordinary people (Saltenis, Dereskevicius) and things (Kuras, Svegzda) ,but the soul of reality in the meanwhile was expressed by the stylization of form and the expressive and pastozic manner of painting. The hyper realism from the West (photo realism) infected not one artist in our country by its' estheticism, but Svegzda perhaps was the only one who became used to it when realized the wish resonated to paint from nature. In his lately works the perfect renaissance picture is surrounded not by the background but the metaphysic irreal space which many times accepts the same thing, which surrounds it by the subtle and harmonic meditation of temper. The endless patience lends the transcendental existence to the thing.

The biography of the artist determinates his creative character. A hard illness exiled him from Lithuania to Germany and that was the reason why attentive glance to an ear of rye or a shrink fruit or a splinter remembered him his motherland. The nostalgia, which rose from the things, concentrated his sensation as well as the soul.
His creative work was ideal correspondence of his world outlook - Svegzda used to link the future of art with the revival of hand making, nature studies, classic traditions, in one word, with handicraft. After his interest to the east philosophy and teaching of Lao-Tze the necessity of the handicraft's perfection in the context of modern life he legitimated by conceptual pantheistic halo.

The pilgrim thought to be the Saint is able to change the existence and the context of a high road's stone by the touch of his hand. And after this touch people looking to the stone would see neither the relict nor the real thing but metaphysic history surrounded it no matter has one or other pilgrim touched it. The irreal space created by the history is more important than the history or thing itself.

I try to outlay the mood and principia of Svegzda's life and creative work by the metaphor of pilgrim. He was one of the beginners among modern Lithuanian artists who involved the written irritation to the field of painting and enabled to find the idea in it. The creativeness arising from the existence become closer to the conceptualism by it's own way and made the first step to the hardly tangible postmodernism.

© A.Gintalaite

PILLARS OF ABSTRACTIONISM: ZIMBLYTE AND CUKERMANAS

In the Soviet years, abstraction was supposed to be very vicious art. Little by little, this attitude was modified and in the second part of nineties it was changed.

Nevertheless, already in the end of sixties, there were some attempts to create abstract paintings (usually they were demonstrated only to a small circle of people) in Lithuania. In the cross of seventies and eighties, Kazimiera Zimblyte and Eugenijus Antanas Cukermanas began the systematic work in the field of abstractions. They remained the greatest Lithuanian abstractionists till the end of nineties.

It was easier for these artists to begin the work in the field of abstractionism, because they were not shackled by the school norms: Zimblyte studied textile, and Cukermanas studied architecture. On the other hand, it was more difficult for them to demonstrate their works in public: they were not considered professional painters, and, being abstractionists, they could not win the power over with their paintings in the nature of compromise.
The New York school made some influence on Zimblyte and Cukermanas.

In her works, Zimblyte especially relies on the light. Her works have a great dose of sacrality.
For Cukermanas, moving of huge colored areas, making an impression of almost cosmic rhythm, ascetic color and rough textures are of great importance. His paintings talk about permanent processes of interaction and competition between spirit and material.

© A.Andriuskevicius

POSTMODERNISM OF SARUNAS SAUKA

 

HENRIKAS NATALEVICIUS IR BRONIUS GRAZYS

 

SENSELESS PARADE. IDENTIFIED: RAIMUNDAS SLIZYS

Since the end of twentieth, the painter Raimundas Slizys existed as an exclusive figure in the context of Lithuanian Art. Differing from many other painters, the object of his brush was social space of a city, that fascinated and at the same time disconcerted the art critique, who wasn't able to fit so popular romantic interpretation based upon the expression chain "soul - nation - country". On that point Slizys was no the first, no the last artist in Lithuanian art history of course. But he was really paticular.
This artist was born in 1952; in 1976 he graduated Vilnius Art Academy; since 1980 he has been the member of Lithuanian Artists' Union. Subtle, distinguished by the good technology (the artist was working as the restore for a long time), his painting was popular. Till 1995, Slizys has hold nine personal exhibitions (three of them in his favourite gallery "Vartai" in Vilnius), his works were exhibited in more than 60 group expositions in Lithuania and abroad. Essentially any remarkable artist of his generation could boast that he has very alike biography. But the contest, concealed in by appearance ordinary creativeness legitimating form, was not so ordinary.

According to the art researcher Raminta Jurenaite, the special merit of Slizys was "secularisation" of painting, which didn't lost exclusiveness "halo" in Lithuanian' s mind till now, - "Slizys wasn't concealing in archaic epoch, he wasn't looking for mythological image, he dove himself to nowadays calamities…". The painter is interested, what's going on here and now. Social dimension is of the main importance if you cast a glance at his refinement canvases.
Perfect harmony of sweetish colors, smooth solution of soft forms in decorative or absolutely abstract background, the details of luxurious material as sharp varnished nail scratches and clots as a fog on the surface of canvas settled down by the paint. Masterly but soft stroke of the brush, figures and plains are arranged together by Japanese refined taste. That is the formal expression of Slizys.

Many critics commended Slizys for his modernistic not reconciliation with narrow-mindedness and irony. It's not difficult to notice that it's due to the subject no to the form You can see fat bald pate lying buffed, sharp-heel boot flashing upon you, undeveloped tentacles waging helplessly, friable curls fuming by an orange smoke, "O" form lips or even the smile of horse meeting you here. You can see how fat and weak-willed creatures flounder upon you as the rule turning away the glance from the spectator. Truly the painter likes overacting. But scarcely Slizys takes the role of a social critic and tries to exploit concrete vices .On the contrary, senseless parade (let's name this strange constrained audience) takes part in the vacuum where the only traction is an aesthetic glance of the painter. Don't wait any ethic or aesthetic reproof or reference; only your eye could feel the pleasure upon calligraphic fixed surfaces.
Pretty and smart canvases perfectly fit to the interiors of higher and middle class. That's one more feature of Slizys' paintings, which asked the critics to solve the dilemma trying to outline the limit between true art and fiction. Slizys aesthetically shows the very essence of fiction in art - passively taking pleasure by something what is very familiar and doesn't demand any intellectual, aesthetic, ethic efforts .In this case valuable criteria can't be applied trying to decipher transformation between the fictive art (the works of Slizys as the objects of perceiver) and "true " art (the speculative art is transformed to it as the object of Slizys' works). In that way the circle closes and the efforts to differ the fictive art from the true art lose a sense .

© E.Rindzeviciute

VYGANDAS PAUKSTE

One of the most popular Lithuanian painter Vygantas Paukðte was born in 1957 ,in Vilnius. In 1982, he graduated Lithuanian State Art Institute, Lithuanian Art Academy at present, since 1988 he has been the member of Lithuanian Art Academy. Since 1989 - the member of Art Group " 24".
It's not difficult to understand the reasons of painter's popularity after you got acquainted with his canvases. The beginning of twentieth century - with a mist of nostalgia in the memory - the traditions slips through your eyes, the traditions which You write by capital " T", which trembles by color of expressionistic trembling drops of bush. The same stylistic only losing the hope unambiguily express the background of individual existence, diluted with a little bit of irony accompanied by private life, replaces us to the end of our century in his canvases. For the consciously decorative historicism Paukðte is estimated as the founder of Lithuanian postmodernism. He deliciously exploits the old, classic modernistic traditions of neoprimitivizm. Paukðte can be truly and ambiguily called a national painter: he continues the expression of expressive and coloristic painting, strongly simplifies the motif but also keeps clear narrative line where he is not afraid poetically to show the problems of existence.
The iconography mostly restricts by schematic figures of a man (the most often two figures - the man and the woman), some time by figures of animals treating them in background of landscape or interior. The acting field of the heroes is very wide - from the simple acts of everyday life as reading and eating till poetic parabolas. Not so rare the substitution is presented by hint to antique myth or by outlining the landmarks of literal subject (for example " The Flight of Ikarus", " Treading upon the shadow ", " The Clouds Painter").
One more especial stylistic feature of Paukðte - distinct division to both sides: decorative and expressive. The critique tried to explain this division by various ways - beginning from direct postmodernistic eclecticism till psychoanalytic researches. But in any case the works subjugate by stylistic unity and restrictive balance.

© E.Rindzeviciute

MODIFIKUOTAS EKSPRESIONIZMAS: GINTARAS PALEMONAS JANONIS, RICARDAS BARTKEVICIUS

PAINTING IS RECEDING: OBJECT, INSTALLATION, PERFORMANCE AND VIDEO ARE COMING

Lately, in Lithuanian art there arose quite specific situation of post-painting, post-sculpture. That does not mean the phenomenon of painting does not exist any more, but it recedes out from the personal life of active artists.
The artists of middle and younger generation began giving preference to the expression of idea rather than "pure" genre. They conceptualized the idea of art object, its diffusion and impact on a spectator, so interdisciplinary relations became stronger.

The creations in the style of pictorial icon were changed by especially material, multidimensional, objective creations, often having paradoxically anachronic features. They are sometimes inspired not by the concrete art conception, but by the technological inventions which carry the main charges of a picture. When materials of any shape are allowed to appear in the halls of exhibitions, there participate thing-material-creator in variations, there appeared a possibility for endless interpretations and combinations, because the traditional criteria of art evaluation are no longer in force. Today, art is abstract from painting, from the concrete space of exhibition by its possibility to escape to the "secular", unconventional space, so there were created a great number of art works, such as a project "Everyday Speech" (curator Algis Lankelis), a project .for public objects (curator Liutauras Psibilskas), projects for the specific place (exhibitions of group S.E.L. in monastery in Vilnius, in observatory of Vilnius University, etc.).

Video art, video installations, cybernetic expression of object is the objective expression, inseparable from everyday reality, it is natural component of art in the ether of reality full of new communications, so it is understandable that artists working in this field (Gintaras Seputis, "The Group of Academic Training", the artists of Image Studio) incorporate media to the exhibitional performance. Performances is the popular phenomenon in Lithuania. Non-existing group "Green Leaf" currently is not engaged in this kind of expression; performances are mainly created by the group Post Ars (Aleksas Andriuskevicius, Robertas Antinis, Ceslovas Lukenskas). Linas Liandzbergis and Dziugas Katinas are also actively propagating performances (their largest work was the festival of performances "Dimension O", organised in the Modern Art Center in 1997). In recent years, the group S.E.L., Evaldas Jansas, Artûras Raila are creating performances, too. In the post-painting, inter-disciplinary dimension there are especially distinguished such artists as Artûras Raila, Deimantas Narkevicius, Mindaugas Navakas, Gediminas Urbonas, Egle Rakauskaite, Gintaras Makarevicius, Andrius Novickas, Darius Bastys, Linas Liandzbergis, Dziugas Katinas, Jansas, group S.E.L., Dainius Liðkevicius and many others.

Object, installation, video art won the positions of official art and now occupy the greater part of exhibitions. No one declares the avant-gardism of this art, it became just natural expression of active modern individuals in this post-painting, post-sculpture situation where the boundaries of genres and technologies disappear.

© V.Lukauskiene

Up to the end of nineties painting was the main brand of the Lithuanian art: it created the atmosphere of art life, you could find in it the most fatal news, and it had contacts with the world art of the 20th century. In the end of this century, the things changed: painting, although still existing, began receding to the "roadsides", making a place on a stage for the art phenomena "talking in new languages".

The main heroes of this transformation were young painters, those who recently got the specialty of painting in the Academy of Arts. Many of them (often while creating their diploma works) began to use different art speech - installation, video - and did not return to painting again. Here, it is worth mentioning such undergraduates, as Kempinas, Rakauskaite, Makarevicius, Novickas, Ziûra and others, and some representatives of older generation, such as a painter Gasiûnas.

The leap from painting to new languages was caused by three things: first of all, a wish to join the present world art situation, to participate in the international projects; second, a wish to tell things, which cannot be told with the help of painting; third, a skeptic attitude towards expressionist speech and romantic world view related to it, still dominating in the Lithuanian art.

Nevertheless, painting did not die. It might be that it (radically changed, of course) will appear on the art stage one day again.

© A.Andriuskevicius

THE NEW WAVE OF PAINTING: BARILAITE, MARCINKEVICIUS, CICENAS

The creative work of Barilaite, Marcinkevicius, Cicenas cannot be "put in one section"; they are not participants of the same movement. They are absolutely different in the sense of materials used and in the ideas transmitted. They are related by belonging to the same generation.

The works of Barilaite (1972-) provoke to reckon her to the galaxy of "new and severe" artists, in whose works there is more sore and caustic ideas than joy, more black color, metal, the smell of soot and site of a fire than the thrill created by brush and color. Barilaite's works are the signs of intrusion upon the deep layers of subconsciousness. Drastically dotted fragmented bodies, heads, limbs, melted contours of nature and monochrome… Black and grey colours, negative of light, forms and lines, aging of a body.
Currently, Barilaite does not limit herself in painting. She has created a number of installations in Lithuania and abroad. She uses the same themes, but different means to express them: objects, photograph. She also exploits the specificity of the place where her works are installed.

Marcinkevicius' (b.1969) painting is different. His canvases of big size are accumulation of primordial galaxy of colors, concords, development, ritual, malignant plot and grotesque. The pictorial body of a painting is created using parti-colored clay in the tune of military spirit. Marcinkevicius "tags" pretentious titles appealing to the Bible subjects and paradoxically interpreted situations of today, to his pictorial element, which sometimes tends to pseudo-mythology and social personalising. From the first sight, Marcinkevicius develops the tradition of expressive painting, but at the same time, he transforms it, combining it with commix slipping in the principle of "a la stop slip". The painter has participated in the number of exhibitions in Lithuania and abroad, including Art Gendoj (1996) and biennial of Osaka (1997).

The works of Cicenas are distinguished by the original stylization; sometimes it is like a discourse to the vinyl plastic of seventies. Cicenas' painting is very decorative, sometimes even aggressive by its decorativeness, it is full of eroticism. The author is flirting with kitsch, balancing between kitsch and stylisness - the boundaries of "beauty".
Revision of painting's composition, some conditionality and theatricality is not alien to the painting of Linas Cicenas. His paintings remind of poli-chromical applications, where each form has clear boundaries, which sometimes sparkle in synthetic neon colors.

© V.Lukauskiene

PERFORMANCES

All the new art movements in Lithuania began with the political changes, i.e. after the independence of Lithuania was renounced. The period of eighties and nineties became the sign of the beginning of the new Lithuanian art history, which induced artists to participate actively in "the creation of new art speech". Such sudden turn of art was caused by the rich flow of new information which allowed to look more deeply at the history of Western art and to hear about such alternative art movements as Fluxus, the initiator of which was Jurgis Maciunas, the artist of Lithuanian origin. (It is not surprisingly, that retrospective Fluxus exhibition, held in Lithuania much later (in 1997), was one of the largest and most frequented exhibitions in the Centre of Modern Art in Vilnius, and later the constantly-working Fluxus room was open there.) The artists began to create not individually, but in groups, so some movements united in Lithuania. One of them, "The Green Leaf", a group of young artists (students then) was formed in 1988. It radically "turned its back upon" the traditional art and its themes. Their activities could be described as a wish to get over traditions and to aesthetise the other side of life - brutal, vulgar and full of complexes and standards. The group POST-ARS, formed in 1989, remained one of the most serious propagators of the art of action. This group was formed by the artists who were the specialists of their field: a sculptor Robertas Antinis, a painter Aleksas Andriuskevicius, a musician Ceslovas Lukenskas and a photographer Gintaras Zinkevicius. (Currently, Antinis and Andriuskevicius actively create together.) In 1990, the group announced its manifest which, as the group's name, showed the turn to the past, i.e. they turned back to the art history and adopted the ideas of the art "without place" - dada, Fluxus, futuristic art. In the context of the search of new form, two different art movements direct their look to the retrospective. The search of themes is directed to the past, and the source of the main themes is history. In general, history becomes one of the most fundamental art themes, what can be considered the expression of the Lithuanian nation's individuality. History becomes the image play, torn off the reality, history is the present, the past and the future. The past is superior to the present, so the past becomes even more realistic and authentic reality, ideal construction, which is constantly exploited. The first action of "The Green Leaf" was "The Iron Wolf" (1988). It has these tendencies, too: the sculpture occurs from the sound, so the form could only be foreboded and imagined, and the theme of action is a reference to the legend about Vilnius' founding: the howling wolf is transferred to the historical-cultural context. Gradually, overt places and nature change the close space. The nature becomes the inseparable part of the art work, and a human being - its mediator. POST-ARS' actions were quite different from those of "The Green Leaf": the latter were open to interpretation and turned more for Joseph Beuys' propagated ideas, i.e. the inner experience, which was the dominating part of the work, only fragmentally opened to a spectator in its form. At that time, POST-ARS participants' actions turned more to the form and the search of it. Their creative work is based on two fundamental points: the nature and the culture. Although the style of each member is individual, the general creation of group is homogenous, because every creator tries to base himself on the same creative background. In these art movements, the form became dematerialised, the means of expression were found not only with the help of painting, but also other existing arts - theatre, music, dance, etc. This express a wish to be in art.

The creative work of Antinis (1946-) could be described as the perpetual search of relationship between nature and culture: the author usually transforms culture into nature. In the open surroundings, visually interesting for him, he becomes a participant of process and so experiences every idea through the action. Such a principle of art is closely related to the idea, which is materialised in a process and finally is placed in the memory. His creations melt in the plastic constructions of abstract notions (positive-negative). These plastic searches reveal in his continuous cycle "Epitaph" (1990, 1992, and 1993). The author plays with form and uses the primary materials (clay, stone, and sand) and the secondary ones (cloth, cotton wool, paper, and rubber) which are ephemeral and can better express the time. The structure of such materials enables to create the art of process. In Antinis works, the elements of improvisational and accidental art are interrelated. His creations could be called the perpetual thinking over sculpture: they are spontaneous leaving of contact with material and signs in a form. According to the author, "I can treat my sculpture as a form, which will be touched by a blind man, giving the corresponding idea to that form." While creating in the nature, the artist does not deny the possibility for the space to become a form.

The specificity of Aleksas Andriuskevicius (1959-) works could be expressed by a formula "culture - culture". He, on the contrary, struggles against the nature, transforming it into the culture. The art obsession of Andriuskevicius has connections with the classical examples of process art (the expression form of minimalistic ideas is subjugated to the principle of automatisation). That is clearly revealed in the theme he exploits - playing with polygraph: "Polygraphic Progression" (1990) (a hill made from postcards, a tree fastened with postcards, a path covered with paper); "Polygraphic Lines" (1990), "Exercise-book of Singing" (1994). The content of his works lies on the other side of object - in the continuity of art image. So, his creative formula "culture - culture" also contains the time dimension, which has the perpetual continuity and changing. His creations have a great deal of connections with the process arts. Andriuskevicius also works in video area where he realises his performance attitudes. His work "Four etudes" (1994) demonstrates how the idea, using minimal means, could be preserved from chance occurrence and factors of unavoidable environment and how it could be purified to the maximum. According to the author, "this is a process in time, and the moving of object-glass in the space: the interaction between my invisible footsteps and people passing through, who do not leave their footsteps, either".

The creative period of group POST-ARS in 1990-1992 is marked by its active activities in the art of action. The notable actions are "The Bed", "Five Music Lines" performed in Kaunas, also actions held in Zatyais pit. One of the remarkable works of this group was created in coal-pit in Germany during the symposium "Europe - Biennale Niederlausitz II". Its theme "human being-civilisation-nature-culture" corresponded to the creative trend of POST-ARS. Their work "Score" was awarded the first premium. Andriuskevicius characterised their work very precisely: "Score is a cultural stamp, five lines on a paper with notes written on it. We transferred this cultural stamp to the nature. Lines connected grass, stones, birches among them. These objects were supposed to spread the sound". This was one of the most successful attempts to transfer the culture (notes in this case) to the nature.

With the work "Seeing Everything" (1994), they demonstrate the controversial process - they transfer the nature into the exhibition hall, so expressing the aspects of relationship between the unite and the whole. In this work, there are the primary elements of nature: earth (clay clods), air (empty dishes), water (laying bog) and fire (flammable straws, cigarette packets), etc. Here is seen not only macro-world, but also human intellect and culture (texts about the wind). In such destructive environment, the existence problems (not the social ones) are solved. The existence problem becomes the essential accent in their works.

Their work "Whips" (1996), exhibited in the performance festival "Dimension O", corroborates the general attitudes of their creative work. The artists wearing black suits "whip" white walls. The action lasted for five minutes and left black whip stripes on the walls. The theme of "whips" was continued in "Europe-Humanisme", the international biennial of modern art in France, where whips and rods were exhibited on the frontages of houses in a narrow street. The semantics of things corresponded to the conception of exhibition and aptly described the present geopolitical situation of Lithuania.

The creative way of group POST-ARS can be defined as the entire combination of minimalistic expression and nature arts. There dominate a process, an action, which could be named a ritual, and the importance of ideas still remains one of essential elements of their works.

Group "The Green Leaf" existed and created for three years. Its members were Urbonas, Makðtutis, Bareikis, Ludavicius, Katinas, Sodeika, Labinas.


MANIFESTO POST-ARS, after art, later than art, behind art, art after art, near art, with art, against art, not art, whether art, super-art, on art and under art, far and wide in art, slantwise through art, where-art, why art, water art, art of the earth and the sky, temporarily art, eternally art, eternally temporal art, existence art, ARS-POST.

© J.Liskeviciene

INSTALLATION ATTEMPTS

Art of installations and creation of objects became one of the most popular movements of the Lithuanian art in the nineties. In this field, the representatives of youngest generation show themselves the most actively. The history of installation in Lithuania developed in two main ways: installation as filling up the general whole and installation as filling up the separate space (most often, non-exhibitional one). There were held a number of special projects: installations of spaces in the old and neglected houses of Vilnius (project "The Forgotten Present", curators Algis Lankelis and Audrius Novickas, 1977), appliance of creative works to the open spaces (project "Mundane Language", curator Algis Lankelis, 1996), decoration of shop windows (project "For Yours, if and Others", curator Liutauras Psibilskis, 1995), etc. Installations are created not only by groups, but also by individuals. The most remarkable of them are Zilvinas Kempinas, Dainius Liskevicius, Egle Rakauskaite, Gintaras Makarevicius and others.

Zilvinas Kempinas (b.1969) studied painting in the Academy of Arts in Vilnius in 1987-1993. He started his creative career while studying, and in his first exhibitions with the group "Good Evils", he refused the traditional painting and turned to the creation of objects. According to the artist, for him "a three-dimensional thing is much more impressive than plane one". For some time, Kempinas worked in the theatre, created scenographies to the plays "Halloo, Sonia, it's New Year", "The Old Woman 2", "The Flying Dutchman" (conductor Gintaras Rinkevicius), "PS File OK" (director Korsunovas). Kempinas' works precisely express the conception of the play or exhibition, where they are demonstrated. In the exhibition "Whale's Stomach" (1994), which can be treated like integral installation (all works were exhibited in the darkness, and spectators could see the works only in the light of candles (candles were the work of art by Evaldas Jansas). Kempinas' work was created for the light of candles. The main point of his "Silent Mechanics" was the shadow falling from the candle in spectator's hands.

One of the most remarkable works by Kempinas is "Painting from the Nature" - installation, exhibited in the Centre of Modern Art in Vilnius (1994). After the opening day, the performance in the exhibition hall lasted for a week, till the installation got its final version. The space was installed using the film bobbins and reminded the wood. In the middle of this supposed "wood", using the same films, there was created a stage, where the artist was sitting and creating "the paintings" with the help of technique. The author described his installation like this: "I live in sapling grove and paint from nature. My house is full of apparatus producing the wind. I use one of them as a malbrett." And indeed, in this space, with the help of technique, there was staged the traditional way of painting. Here, the very suggestive whole was created and the idea of universality was expressed excellently. The structural elements of material, used in installation, offer their own references: film slips seem to be monotonous, and only the abundance of them create a plot; pictures are created by the artist performing the same action every time (he draws a spot on a paper, and a small motor, blowing the wind, "draws" a spiral). These are structures of space and time creating the illusion of perpetuity. All pictures here are different - thousands of various spirals, symbolising eternity and continuity, fill up all the space of installation. On the other hand, Kempinas, realising this idea in mass production, turning towards monotony and anonymity, almost condemns the artist's ego and his individuality. (This tendency is especially revealed in the works of the youngest generation of nineties: Mindaugas Simkus, Sarunas Arbaciauskas, Liutauras Juzikenas and others.)

The other impressive work of Kempinas is "Portraits-Fossils" (1996). Fossil is an imprint of petrified and mummified organism in the cultural layer. Zilvinas' fossils - "stiff" imprint of face in gyps - is a precise portrait, a shell of alive and dead form. This installation is also continuous; the final version of it one could see in Jutempus Gallery in Vilnius (1996). Portraits were created while working and communicating with each giver of his face mold, training them psychologically: convincing and preparing to experience "the smell of death". In the exhibition, spectators could feel no only the power of personal "death", but also see the movement of forms (positive-negative), enjoy the recognition, etc.

The creative work of Zilvinas Kempinas is coldly aestheticised and rational, it is the pure whole of the impact of things, their meanings and environment.

Dainius Liðkevicius (1970-) studied sculpture in the Academy of Arts in Vilnius in 1990-1996. He creates art works, installations, which could be described as the attempts to frame up the space. His installations have a broad field of associations and meanings, so his works are universal in the sense of idea, and they often create the entire plot. His creations are not only passive objects, his installations include elements of sound, light and motion. Electric light, motion reacting to a spectator, sound made not by the musical instrument - all this has connections with the image of many-layerness: meanings lay one upon the other, and here opens the broad map of culture, experience and association. Objects, created by Liskevicius, have a great deal of eclectic details, which are chosen consciously in order to straighten the suggestiveness of the work.

The work of three objects ("Wheel", "Coffin", "Mirror") "The Stereotypic Images of Death" (1994) which supplement each other, illustrates not the death itself, but its idea. The death is treated in a non-stereotypical way. The object "Coffin" is just a box of classical proportions, which exhibits the death only like the view of death's idea - universal, clear and smart report. Mirror is a typical symbol of other reality. Liskevicius' object - the old mirror has a door eye which "confuses" a spectator: as it turns out, the death can look from the other side of reality.

In the exhibition "For Beauty" (curators Skurvidaite and Malasauskas, 1995), his work "Ambulance" demonstrated an excellent imitation of "beauty" which can be understood in much broader and more universal sense. Its elements - white plaster swans on the wall (childhood reminiscences, dreams about sweets and the "real" symbol of beauty), three shining candle-sticks (of anthropomorphic form, so here, light and sanctity can become deformity and demonicality), and flickering television, a peculiar therapy instrument. There are no boundaries between tranquillity and parody in the creative works of Dainius Liskevicius. In his creations, there is a perfect balance between the essence of humour and true idea.

One of the most remarkable examples of Liskevicius' works is an installation "God - Spiritual Attraction of a Man" (1996), exhibited in Jutempus Gallery (1996). The installation of Dainius Liskevicius consists of five moving components. The author weaves a plot among the moving sculpture of Christ, the bird and the family of "spiritual" cosmonauts. The Latin inscription on the wall (Per ipsum, cum ipso et in ipso) and the cross illuminated in lamps substitute and formulate the plot of action. The space is installed in the way that makes a spectator to feel himself like in a strange and mystical surroundings, the original ritual of Mass or - in the words of the title - in the attraction. The installation has a many-layer sense: exposition of things and the semantic relationship among them.

Dainius Liskevicius' work "In - Out" (1998), exhibited in the triennial of Young Artists "Cool Places" (curator Kuizinas, 1998), opens to us as naked and pure idea: it is a huge cube of clear glass, which contains or hides nothing inside. In the corners, there are automatic doors, which usually are open. The secret of this work is inside a spectator who anyhow wishes to get into this "building". But as soon as he comes to the entrance, the door is automatically closed. Such inverse function of the door is the author's idea, it is the essential denial of technique subjugated to the human being. In this work, the artist plays with the human psychology and sneers at the technique, the essence of which is to lighten and improve people's life.

Sound improvisations are of great importance in Dainius Liskevicius' works. Installation "Metaphysic Unpleasantness" (1997) consists of three parts: the sculpture of devil sitting on a motor-cycle, the model of the world planets and the tape-recorder with the record of motor-cycle noise, recorded by Dainius Liskevicius. Different modulations of light and sound create the strain of trouble. Sound improvisations are also used in other projects-performances created by Dainius Liskevicius.

© J.Liskeviciene