VILNIUS - The words "consumerism" and "art" tend to go together uncomfortably, despite the best efforts of Andy Warhol to show how inextricable they really are. But the fact is all artists are faced with the tortuous question of how to "get their work across" to the public.
This question is the central focus of an intriguing new exhibtion called "Sicily and the Other Italys," which is now on at the Stiklo Karoliukai gallery.
Talking with photographer Kristupas Baublys about his new show, we hit upon the concept of "pret-a-consommer" as he reminisced about his trip to Italy and mused on the accessibility of art (or lack thereof), and pointed out the realities of consumerism.
The phrase "pret-a-consommer" (ready to consume) suggests that art is as consumable as anything else in its ready-made form for a hungry public.
In reliving the bits of his trip to Italy, Baublys brought to life the many aspects of the country lost in its abstract whole, a virtual patchwork quilt, citing in one swoop Palermo's beauty, the canals of Venice, the hilly republic of San Marino and the realtively tiny Vatican state.
Baublys also didn't hesitant to mention the sufficating throngs of Venice and the dirty streets of Naples. It is this contrast, according to the artist, which gives the exhibition its sense of being a fragmented whole.
Baublys's background in advertising and marketing has clearly served him well in reducing complex notions to readily palpable ideas, and in cleverly playing on cultural stereotypes to challenge our often lazy notions of reality.
Baublys admitts to being daunted by the dizzying possibilities of photography, but he also clearly revels in the narrative style that his camera allowed him to pursue.
"I'm more interested in the storytelling of photography," he said, with smoke whirling around his torn cap. The black-and-white images of his photography, he said, were made to be as direct as possible. He likens his style to a bold newspaper headline, designed to capture the senses.
Speaking on the often difficult relationship between art and the public, Baublys says that he believes tha art should be accessible to everybody, not limited to an elite few.
"I believe that everyone has the right to create,"he said, stating that freedom and consumerism were not incompatible, but only logical when an artist thinks about presenting an idea to the public.
It's not the first time he's put together a retrospective of his work. His first show, which included photos taken on the East Coast of the U.S.A. shortly before Sept. 1, was entitled "Memories of Illusion" and was held at the American Culture Center. He said that the selected images tried to bring back what he had seen before the tragic events that shook a nation. The success of that exhibition spurred him on to take on new projects.
Baublys sees himself more as a consumer than an artists, which perhaps accounts for the wonderful simplicity and accessibitlity of his work. Yet it is often the most simple things which most hold and challenge our attention.
The exhibit opens on Jan. 8 and runs until Jan. 22 at the Stiklo Karoliukai gallery, just off the central square of the Uzupis quarter in Vilnius Old Town.
"Sicily and the Other Italys"
Stiklo Karoliukai Gallery
2 Paupio Street, Vilnius