art 2003/2
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SvajonŽ ir Paulius Stanikai. Pasaulinis karas. 2003
Ekspozicijos fragmentai


The Exhibition ďWorld WarĒ.
Paulius and SvajonŽ Stanikas Represent Lithuania at the Venice Biennial

by Christian Caujolle

The art by the Lithuanian artists Stanikas is quite unnerving to the viewer: they bring together large-scale photography prints, huge drawings executed in steel grey tones, terracotta sculpture pieces, which have the likeness of bronzes or marbles. In contrast to numerous other contemporary artists, who mostly work in mass media, the Stanikai use each means of expression for the sake of its specific qualities needed to achieve a unique effect. The obvious eclecticism of their work has its inherent logic. Displayed together these works look like a collage or a collection (we attempted to achieve such effect in Venice). The artists create an incredibly diverse from aesthetic viewpoint world. The art of this charming couple contains all kinds of cruelty. But such is life, they claim. The skilfulness of their craft (their drawings could stand next to classical Italian art) enables them to articulate their message of the present time and the problems of contemporary art with incredible clarity and detail. They resist the fashion, ultramodern aesthetics and consumerism, even a “corrective influence”. I like their work “World War” because it is born from the inner necessity and makes no concessions. It attempts to penetrate into human condition and analyse it. This analysis is not superficial; the artists approach the riddle and mystery of human condition with a sense of scale and proportion.
I was extremely happy to find out that the Stanikas couple were selected to represent their country at the 50th biennial in Venice. Finally these unique, yet so far little known to the world artists were given a chance of a serious international presentation of their work. I gladly accepted the challenge to be a commissar of the Lithuanian pavilion. It was a true adventure, having in mind first of all the task of joggling with a humble budget allocated by Lithuania. Yet the six months of work were an absolute bliss. The work involved finding the venue, as Lithuanian does not have its pavilion in Giardini, not too far distanced from the centre of the biennial (we decided on Fortuny museum), solving all the technical aspects of bringing the works over, putting together and installing them in the museum space, which also had to be “tamed”.
The journées professionales commenced, and brought visits of collectors, art critics, museum directors, notably by Sussane Page, director of Paris Contemporary Art Museum; their reaction were very encouraging. Four days were full of positive feedback. We were sad and disappointed to find out how close the Stanikas exhibition was to the victory. On the next day, when the laureates of the 50th Venice Biennial were declared, French culture minister, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, Olivier Poivre d’Arvor from AFAA and Alfred Pacquement from the Pompidou Centre visited the Lithuanian pavilion. We were moved by the attention of the French to the art of the Stanikas, as well as their friendly attitude. It gave hopes that these meetings would continue.

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