In the 1960s, Vilnius suddenly began to change: it expanded, and its leafy suburbs turned into new urban areas. The areas of Antakalnis and Žirmūnai appeared opposite each other on the banks of the Neris, many new buildings were built, and Khrushchev-era panel-block architecture intruded ever deeper into nature. Artists observed these changes, including Leonas Katinas (1907–1984). Before the Second World War, he studied at Kaunas School of Art and worked as an actor with the Šiauliai Theatre. In 1948, he completed his painting studies at the State Institute of Art of the LSSR, and became a lecturer there. His early works have features of Academism, but in the 1960s his work became less constrained. In the picture The new town, he depicted decoratively and clearly, in vivid and successive planes, a view of high-rise Antakalnis and Žirmūnai, taking care to avoid destroying the flat plane of the picture with perspective. Katinas used real shapes, but he moved towards structuring them (abstraction was to flourish in his work in the 1970s). The clear colouring achieved by the rich colours and shades conveys the optimistic mood of the transformation and modernisation of old Vilnius that was characteristic of the time. Text author Laima Laučkaitė.


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