art 2003/2
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Vilmantas Marcinkevičius. Žvilgsnis. 2003, drobė, aliejus, 200x180

Neringa Žukauskaitė. Mūzos. 2003, medžio raižinys, pieštukas, 40x49

Dovilė Norkutė. Berniukas su laišku. 2000, drobė, aliejus, 180x100


Lithuanian Galleries Storm the Largest Art Fairs

by Rūta Mikšionienė

Since their appearance in the country over a decade ago, private art galleries have been aware of the need to participate in the largest art fairs. Back then they hoped to change art selling and buying patterns in Lithuania and to make money they needed to buy exhibiting space. Yet local artists keep selling their productions from their studios, as they find it unprofitable to enter into a contract with one gallery. The function of the galleries remains that of a free showcasing space.
However, some Lithuanian galleries have found the courage and ways to bring the work of their artists to some of the influential art fairs. “Kauno Langas” went to Düseldorf’s “The Art Multiple” as early as 1995. Yet the hopes to get an invitation to Cologne in 2000 failed because of the focus of the gallery on traditional art. The “Vartai” of Vilnius, although it also features mostly painting and graphic arts, became the first Lithuanian gallery to participate in Cologne’s Art Fair, preceded by successful participation at Ghent’s. Besides selling some works, the “Vartai” gallery earned something more lasting, connections and numerous invitations to other important art forums. The IBIP Projects, operating in Vilnius and London, showed and sold some installations at Basle’s, while a group of textile artists presented their production at Moscow’s Art Fair, with tremendous success.
In choosing their strategies, galleries in Lithuania face several dilemmas. Despite some renaissance of traditional forms, the international art scene keeps to be dominated by contemporary art forms, like video and photography. Lithuanian galleries feature primarily traditional art and are not sure if they should succumb to dictatorship fashion and their focus? It would be especially difficult given the fact that they work with traditional, yet very good artists. Another challenge is money needed to take their artists to the world’s art fairs: their profits form art sales are far from what they need, while the state’s policy does not provide for support of art through private business. The recently publicized idea of a Vilnius art fair does not seem feasible either.

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