art 2002/2

Nora Blaževičiūtė. Moteris su paukščiais. 2002, molis, emaliai, degimas, 1100°C,
48 x 25 x 22

Jolanta Uznevičiūtė. Be pavadinimo.
2002, baltas molis, emaliai, 27 x 36 x 6

Lithuanian Ceramics: History and Nowadays
70 years of Lithuanian professional ceramics

by Vaida Ščiglienė

The anniversary of the 70 years gives an occasion to rethink the evolution of this branch of art in Lithuania. It is not easy due to the existing discrepancy between the real evolution and its reflection and record in press and publications. The shelf of books on Lithuanian ceramic artists is very short: several dozens of small books featuring separate artists were published in the 1960s and 70s, the developments in the 80s were covered by sparse exhibition catalogues and press reviews. Of more solid works one can mention two: "The Art of Ceramics" (1998) by professor Juozas Adomonis and the text by the art critic Pile Veljataga "Methodological Questions of Style. Stylistic Features of Ceramic Art".
Deplorably, Lithuanian ceramicists have no their own publication or museum. The idea of ceramics museum has been long natured by Jolanta Lebednykienė, director of Panevėžys Art Gallery and the organizer of the international ceramics symposiums in Panevėžys.
The past ten years have been rich in diverse exhibitions featuring ceramic works. Vital for the evolution of this branch are symposiums. The Panevėžys International Symposium has already been organized for 14 years and plays the key role as a forum for ceramic artists. No less important is a conference held in the framework of the symposium.
The foundations of modern Lithuanian professional ceramic art were laid in the early 1930s. At its outset, ceramic art was not held equal with other branches of art, but with time it gained influence. In the second half of the 1930s, the Chair of Ceramics was led by Liudvikas Strolis, who received his education in Paris. The period was dominated by objects of utilitarian nature. The dominant decoration scheme was based on Lithuanian folk patterns. In the process of education Strolis emphasized techniques and glazes.
The subsequent decades saw ceramic art preserve its focus on folk style. Yet in the 1940s and the 1950s ceramic production deteriorated into primitive, provincial style. At the time ceramic artists were trained by the Chair of Ceramics of the State Art Institute. The trade could be learned at the vocational schools of applied arts in Kaunas and Telšiai. Two mass production sites for ceramic ware were the Dailė factory and the Jiesia factory.
The 1960s brought new trends into Lithuanian ceramic art: though utilitarian function of ceramic wear still dominated, more pieces of decorative character appeared. The separation line between applied and fine arts was still prominent. In the end of the 1960s and 1970s ceramic art integrated features of sculpture, painting and graphic arts. Utilitarian works were ousted by pieces based upon free association.
In the 1980s a new trend - of conceptual ceramic art - appeared, and predominant number of works were created for exhibitions. Initially this tendency was resisted and ridiculed, yet later such anti-utilitarian works were acknowledged for their significance.
Over the past eleven years ceramic art in Lithuania has acquired more diversity and has become prone to experiment. In some instances it was transformed into installation or object. It is usual today to combine nontraditional materials with clay. However, for all artists, who consider themselves ceramicists, a common footing is provided by clay body, techniques and glaze.
There is one final thing to be said. Today Lithuanian artists offer a broad scale of conceptual, powerful pieces
demonstrating exquisite skills in technology. Yet we lack unique Lithuanian utilitarian objects in clay!