Paulius and SvajonŽ Stanikas Represent Lithuania at the Venice Biennial
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 dArvor 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.