art 2004/2


Eglė Ganda Bogdanienė, Miglė Lebednykaitė, Laura Pavilionytė. Velti sodai (fragmentai). 2004, vilna, vėlimas, kamšymas, 150x100, 8 vnt.

Several Profiles of Lithuanian Textile Art  

by Jolanta Zabulytė

Many a critic has already noticed the symptoms of renaissance in Lithuanian textile art: a growing number of interesting textile exhibitions, plentiful skill and talent, and a lot of young blood. The bank of ideas has been growing and some new ways of expression have been discovered. The textile artists started showing their work more often locally and internationally. Right and the Wrong Sides, an international textile exhibition in Kaunas has established itself as a regular event. In 2004, Vilnius launched a textile biennial, Private Shirt is Closer to One’s Skin. The art galleries in Vilnius and Kaunas regularly host solo and thematic textile exhibitions. In 2002–2004, Lithuanian textile artists were featured by the international events in Poland, Hungary, Latvia and elsewhere.
Textile art has very old archaic roots, but as a branch of professional art it is rather young. The soviet art establishment had only one mission assigned for textile artists: to decorate the interiors. All major work would be created on commission only. Creative work was almost like a hobby for the artists. However, the period left some good heritage, above all, the high value attached to craftsmanship, professionalism, and ambition to speak in one’s own voice.
Under the new political conditions, the old organizations have fallen apart. Textile artists have started organizing their work independently. On the other hand, tapestries disappeared from public and private interiors; architects started flirting with conceptual art. The young generation was the first to embrace experiment and integrate new information. They also inspired a drift towards conceptualism among the middle and the senior generation.
The traditional weaving has kept its status, however, new, often three dimensional forms, are gaining increasing popularity. Traditionally non-textile materials, like paper, wood, hair, polyethylene bags enable the artists to achieve a wide range of effects. The ancient skills, crochet, stitching, appliqué, felt, cloth shaping and patterning have been rediscovered. Silk patterning and painting on silk are the techniques that keep gaining popularity in a new role. It allows interesting marriage of ancient natural dies with modern digital printing on silk.    
The growth of textile artists’ capabilities has driven them to form an umbrella organization, the Textile Crafts and Arts Guild. It is greatly instrumental in expanding international contacts through counterpart foreign bodies.
The textile art is predominantly occupation of female artists, and this fact reflects on the themes, subjects and the means of expression. For instance, the woman-mother image emerges as central in classical tapestries and conceptual projects. The Textile Chair at Kaunas Institute of Vilnius Art Academy, headed by the talented artist Laima Oržekauskienė since 1996, combines the policy of encouraging experiment with exacting requirements for professionalism and trade skills. Due to innovative and encouraging staff, it is a testing ground for new ideas, materials and techniques.