Grand master of art photography

  • 2011-11-10
  • By Rokas M. Tracevskis

VILNIUS - Ramunas Danisevicius, 38, studied photo art in Vilnius and later worked for the daily Lietuvos Zinios. Now he works for the biggest Lithuanian daily Lietuvos Rytas. He has won more Lithuanian and international press photo awards than any other Lithuanian photographer. The exhibition of his 30 black-and-white works is open in the Prospekto Galerija on Gedimino Ave. 43 (open on Tuesdays-Fridays from 12:00 to 18:00 and on Saturdays from 12:00 to 16:00) in Vilnius until Nov. 12. The Web site of Prospekto Galerija states that the exhibition will be open until Nov. 5, but Danisevicius told The Baltic Times that it will be open longer, and Nov. 12, Saturday, will be the exhibition’s last day. The entrance is free of charge. His new black-and-white album of 122 photos (the English title of this bilingual, Lithuanian-English, book is Being and Time) can be bought for 35 litas (10 euros) at the exhibition.

Danisevicius is the leading representative of Lithuanian photo art, which is famous across Europe since the 1960s when the most prestigious Czech magazine of artsy photography The Photography Review (it was a liberal time in the Prague Spring) was full of Lithuanian photographers’ photos of countryside life (they had nothing to do with official Soviet propaganda) as well as artsy portraits of female nudes (Soviet ideology did not encourage such photography).

The photographer is a Vilnius city resident and he photographs city life more than the countryside, but he preserved the traditional Lithuanian photographers’ passion for making artsy photos of beautiful nude young Lithuanian females - look at his personal English-language Web site to enjoy them. Danisevicius likes to peddle his bicycle via the streets of Vilnius – no wonder that his Web site also presents photos of Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, former President Valdas Adamkus, former President Rolandas Paksas, and other Lithuanian politicians who were pictured near his bicycle. “The bicycle stays, people pass,” states the Web site.

Danisevicius can be noticed taking photos at a celebration of the American Independence Day at the U.S. embassy in Vilnius, a meeting with the Dalai Lama and other events. His collection of artsy photos of celebrities is big: the Dalai Lama (his portrait, which was made in Vilnius in 2001, is on show at the exhibition), Alain Robert (the photo of this famous French urban climber, known as “the French Spider-Man,” scaling a skyscraper situated in Vilnius’ Europa Square in 2006, is presented in the album Being and Time), Lithuanian political and cultural stars, as well as David Gahan of the cult band Depeche Mode, and German rockers of the band Rammstein, pictured during their concerts in Vilnius. These pop and rock stars’ photos are not included in the recent exhibition and album, but photos of the public at rock festival Be2gether (a kind of Lithuanian Woodstock) are included.

Danisevicius’ photo exhibition in Vilnius attracted the attention of the entire Lithuanian photography community. Even Paulius Normantas, a European-wide famous researcher of Asia’s Buddhist countries and photographer, arrived to the opening of this exhibition on Oct. 20 to congratulate Danisevicius.

The photos and album, which are presented at the exhibition, were photographed in Lithuania, Latvia, Czech Republic, and France. The spectrum of themes is wide: from a military parade on Gedimino Avenue in Vilnius on April 2, 2004, marking Lithuania’s joining of NATO, to a photo named A Lady with a Cigarette portraying a lady undressing completely in front of Danisevicius’ camera on the Latvian beach of Liepaja, keeping a cigarette in her hand. The choice of black-and-white almost automatically makes any photo be more artsy – Danisevicius made the right choice, avoiding color photography for the album and the exhibition, though he makes color photos for the newspaper as well, of course. There are no photos of weddings at this exhibition and album, though Danisevicius likes the theme of weddings (look at his Web site) – anyway, the theme of love is not skipped over by him – the exhibition and the album presents several artsy photos of couples kissing in various public places.

The most interesting photos are those of Catholic nuns. They are presented playing football in Ausros Vartu Street in Vilnius on the eve of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and enjoying popcorn and Coca-Cola in the Forum Cinemas Vingis in Vilnius in 2004 at the first showing of The Passion of Christ, directed by Mel Gibson, who then had not yet tumbled into violent alcoholism and psychosis.