art 2003/1

Antanas Gudaitis (1904–1989).
Natiurmortas su vyro galva.
1976–1979, drobė, aliejus, 87 x 95,5

Jonas Švažas (1925–1976).
Nukirsti medžiai.
1975, drobė, aliejus, 66 x 70

Lithuanian Colourists: Time to Showcase

by Viktoras Liutkus

Two decades ago local critics talked extensively of “Lithuanian Colourists School”. The fact of many Lithuanian painters being great colourists was mirrored by larger, Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian events like the Vilnius Triennials.
A boom of stylistic varieties witnessed by the last decade hushed the talk of Lithuanian colourists. Yet the tradition is kept alive. In Lithuania the first colourist was the founder of Kaunas Art School Justinas Vienožinskis, a student of Cracow Art Academy. He passed his experience on his students, the would be members of the Ars group, which to a large extent shaped Lithuanian painting even after the Second World War.
Strong, vibrant colours in the canvases of Lithuanian painters are usually intrinsically bound with the expressive brushwork and a resourceful use of texture ranging from thin transparent layers to thick impastos. Colour also carries some psychological significance.
Stifled by the Soviets, the tradition was revived by Antanas Gudaitis, who taught painting at Vilnius Academy in the 1960s –1980s. Many of his students choose colour as a key tool in their artistic arsenal. The tradition was carried on and modified by the younger artists, who have been exploring different paths. To mention some, Povilas Ričardas Vaitiekūnas, “ascetic” colourist, pursues exploring expressive powers of a rigidly limited colour scheme. The abstract painter Linas Leonas Katinas relies on spontaneity and explosions of contrasting colours. Canvases by Audronė Petrašiūnaitė strike by extraordinary lightness of colour illuminated by a calm interior light.
Lithuanian colourists are still waiting for a comprehensive exhibition and a study on the trend in the local art. One private step has been made in the direction though. From early March through early May this year the gallery “011” in Vilnius and Dydrichsen museum in Helsinki launched a joined project hosted by the Finnish Museum. Curated by Viktoras Liutkus, exhibition featured 14 painters with 45 works. Finns wrote it became warmer in Finland from these works.