Candles and matchstick men light up Gallery Vartai

  • 2007-09-12
  • By Kimberly Kweder

COLLISION OF THOUGHT: Artists Jonas Gasiunas and Kadio Ole rebelled against prevailing art trends by focusing their creative energies on the medium of painting.

VILNIUS - Lithuanian artist Jonas Gasiunas finds that lighting a match and gliding a candle flame along a large canvas results in a better way to tell stories than following the conventional color wheel.
In his oil and acrylic portraits, Estonian Kaido Ole likes to draw life-sized matchstick people, stick figures with enormous, spherical heads.
The two artists have collaborated to create an exhibit called "Jonas & Kaido," running until mid-October at the Gallery Vartai. The exhibit showcases examples of their artwork that represent the conflict of the modern artist surviving in contemporary society.

Art critic Neringa Cerniauskaite said the two artists have witnessed the popular trend of artists to give up striving for originality in painting and shift to using video cameras and other forms of electronic media. Gasiunas and Ole went against the movement.
"Painting is just a way of seeing the world," Cerniauskaite said.
Gasiunas relies on his memories, combining them with pop culture and history to tell his stories. In some of his examples, the smoky, charcoal-like drawings from the candle flames are in loose and transparent lines, showing a human's inability to remember events and personal experiences, Cerniauskaite said.
"The smoke is like a fiction, it's here and it's not here," she said.
Gasiunas' first works with smoke were made in 2000. "I find it rather ironic to work holding a burning candle in the 'darkness of civilization,'" he said in an  interview with Alfonsas Andriuskevius published in the book "Lithuanian Art 1996 's 2005." 

His artwork touches on narratives and his own personal experiences.
His painting "The Nordsea" captures a dismal, cloudy sky and a submarine that peeks slightly above the sea's surface. A few crew members stand on deck. Cerniauskaite said that this scene reflects the artist's life as a Red Army soldier when he lived in Russia.
The Estonian artist's works speak of  aggression and, like those of Gasiunas, a panache for the absurdity of an artist's life in the modern world.
"Speed III" presents the visitor with seven large frames, each with two hands and a pair of scissors. Every subsequent frame shows one hand cutting off a finger from the other hand, one by one, until there are no fingers left. A time code on the bottom of each frame moves the sequence along.

If that's not too much intensity, Ole also invites visitors to see five frames of a paper house slowly destroyed by fire. The exhibit also features 12 of his 36 semi-identical gray circles, part of his "Band Installation."
The Gallery Vartai has been featuring multicultural events and artists from abroad in preparation for the Vilnius Capital Culture 2009 celebrations. Its next exhibit, opening Oct. 23, showcases paintings by nine Swedish artists.

Jonas & Kaido
Until mid-October
Gallery Vartai
Vilniaus Str. 39
Admission free