VILNIUS - The art business in a small country like Lithuania is pretty difficult. There are just a handful of good artists and another handful of people able to afford it. This makes it particularly hard to open up new galleries. Virtu opened its doors in Vilnius in January to some disappointment.
An auction held on the very first day of the gallery's opening just didn't go too well for the young owners, Modestas Katkevicius and Erika Zenkeviciute. But they seem incapable of letting that get them down.
Some three months later, however, it doesn't seem success has arrived just yet. I showed up at the doorstep three times before I could get inside as the place doesn't have any fixed working hours and there was no one inside. Next time, I'll call.
The gallery's two exhibition halls are decorated with masters of Lithuanian new realism: Alfredas Suliaus-kas, Justinas Prakapas, Aleksandras Vozbinas and Romualdas Petrauskas. There are also wood, bone and stone sculptors.
The choices reflect the interests of the owners. "We looked all over Vilnius, but we could not find something like that, so we decided to open a gallery of our own," says Katkevicius.
In some ways the gallery resembles an antique shop, with engraved old chairs, cupboards and tables. There are vintage toy cars and soldiers from St. Petersburg which recall the early 20th century, with children playing at the fireplace. Virtu is a cozy place for those who take warmth in an antique setting.
During the gallery's opening, the owners said they were the first gallery in Vilnius to allow painters and companies to rent out spaces in the gallery. But other galleries in the city announced they did the same thing. Still Virtu managed to draw the public's attention to the practice.
It surely is difficult to find a place in the art market for a new gallery and three months are not enough to establish a respectable name and to host reputable artists. Maybe when I go back to Virtu, the doors will be open wide.
Virtu gallery Raugyklos 6b Vilnius
Tel: +370-5-213 95 52