art 2003/1

Martynas Martišius. O, saule mano.
2001, plastmasė, 170 x 60 x 140

Aistė Kirvelytė. Dengia akis.
1998, drobė, aliejus, 200 x 180

Vilius Vanagas. Broliai viską sutvarkys.
2003, pjuvenų plokštė, mišri technika,
245 x 183

Emilis Vėlyvis. Šokis.
2001, kartonas, aliejus, 122 x 96

Agnė Geniušaitė. Be pavadinimo.
2000, drobė, aliejus, 149 x 150,6

Evaldas Mikalauskis. Namai I, II.
1990, ofortas, 20 x 29

Sandra Nikitinaitė. Be pavadinimo.
2002, ofortas, 31 x 40

Jonas Žukas. Instaliacija Malonumas. 2000, polistirolas, porolonas, audinys, šviesa, garsas, kvapai, 300 x 300 x 800

On the Occasion of the 210th Anniversary of the Vilnius Art Academy

by Skaidra Trilupaitytė

On March 28 through June 15, 2003, the Vilnius Art Academy launched a programme dedicated to the 210th anniversary of the school. Eighteen main exhibition venues of the country featured artworks created in the last ten years by the alumni of the Academy and its branches. All the events highlighted the fact that the past ten years represent the time of research and experiment free from ideological constraints. The article focuses on the exhibition “We Are Coming” opened at the Contemporary Art Center (CAC) on March 28 and featuring work by the students of three Academy’s departments (chairs) – Painting, Sculpture, and Photography and Media Art.
The exhibition is discussed by drawing parallels with some concurrent events, namely the exhibition “Hurts So Good”, featuring 13 video artists graduates of Jan van Eyck’s Academy in Maastricht. This exhibition was also hosted by CAC to provide a wider context for the local event. Two other exhibitions by Vilnius’ students were located at several different venues and in the basement of CAC.
The exhibition “We Are Coming” was curated by the established art critic, curator, and professor at the academy, Raminta Jurėnaitė. By referring to a renaissance of painting and a decline in video art fashion, the curator noted a logical inconsistence of the works presented by the graduates of the local academy. This way she seemed to have won an unfair game. Jan van Eyck’s Academy offered high quality video works tuned to the “appropriate context”. The local academy was represented by a youthful, somewhat eclectic selection of paintings, objects and artworks in different mediums, without any attempts to meet the sterile criteria of the high art.
It is impossible to compare the presentations by the academies of Maastricht and Vilnius without having in mind the difference of experience between the two schools. Even though the local academy emphasizes its hundred years old traditions, the first master class graduating in 1997 marked a new stage in the system of instruction. At the time new programmes started taking shape, therefore the contemporary Lithuanian art school is still in its infancy. Even today, the usual model typical of Western institutions (of undergraduate teaching and graduate research) has not evolved in the local school. One reason for that is probably the legacy of the former management form in the academy.
The exhibition “We Are Coming” lacks some better representation of works produced in the past ten years and focuses mostly on those created after the year 2000. This way it fails to reflect some critical overhauling of tradition related with the emergence of some leading contemporary art proponents as well as classes taught by individual professors, which made history in the life of the academy. It is a shame, that the exhibition ignores a rather passionate advent of contemporary art to the Vilnius Art Academy.
Though the first results of the photography and video art master’s course were far from impressive (in 1996), it is precisely this chair that is expected today to contribute most to mastering of contemporary language of art. The boundaries established in the CAC exhibition (works are separated based on mediums employed), seem to suggest quite straightforwardly that “contemporary art” should be separated from the formal structure of the school’s faculties and chairs.
Alongside, it is important to remember that no art market, which is a neutral tool for art legitimization, exists in Lithuania, and the monopoly of the Vilnius Art Academy in contemporary artistic life creates a rather special situation. Still, the integration of learning requirements and a welcoming attitude towards new disciplines will provide for establishment of positive tendencies within local context.