Vilnius Cathedral Beast

Kęstutis Grigaliūnas2007

Modern Art Center / Modernaus Meno Centras

Modern Art Center / Modernaus Meno Centras

Kęstutis Grigaliūnas belongs to the generation of Lithuanian artists who completed their studies on the eve of the restoration of Lithuania's independence. Information about Western art flooded the country following the collapse of the Iron Curtain and artists began to seek new creative forms and themes, combining different fields: graphic art with painting and sculpture, painting with graphic art and installations.

Painters would hardly agree to call Kęstutis Grigaliūnas' work painting. While his works were created using a paintbrush and acrylic, the author thinks like a graphic artist. Color planes and lines shape the structure of his work. The final result appears as if a screen printing technique had been used, but in this deception lies his artistic strategy.

Screen printing is a graphic art technique that divides an image into raster spots. Using this method, it is simple to reproduce any number of posters or advertisements. Warhol used screen printing to reproduce his soup cans, images of Marilyn Monroe, and other subjects that he wished to immortalize and make infinite. In such a way, he toppled the significance of the original image.

Grigaliūnas takes the opposite approach: he creates an original that is not afraid of being similar to a copy. He imitates raster spotting, and every part of the work is actually created by hand – patiently and at length, as if by a printer monk of old. Pointless, you say? Or perhaps the beauty lies precisely in the revival of the significance of the original?

The themes here are similar to those in much of the rest of his work: life's paradoxes, the collision of values and the conflict between the sacred, the lofty and the banal. Let's take a look at his work The Beast of Vilnius Cathedral, made in 2007. The Cathedral and Šventaragis Valley are the most sacred places in the city for both Christians and, in earlier times, Pagans. The work depicts a dangerous animal – one we would surely not encounter in the forests of Lithuania – walking boldly through this holy space.

The work Oo La La, created in 2006, also takes place in Vilnius, joining past and present. The work, with images of tourists, Japanese, Grand Duke Gediminas, vision, the banal and the noble, becomes a chain of associations and keywords that develop into a story.

Having become an active participant in the life of Lithuanian art at the end of the 1980s and the start of the 1990s, Grigaliūnas constructs images in his works on the collage principal. Objects of different origin meet in unexpected places. In the words of the artist:

"I attempt to create new conceptual relationships and contexts, new stories, from the scattered images and 'quotations' that I find. The layers of spots and images mean that it is impossible to recreate the past as a unified entity – it can no longer be directly experienced."

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  • Title: Vilnius Cathedral Beast
  • Creator: Kęstutis Grigaliūnas
  • Date: 2007
  • Location: Lithuania
  • Physical Dimensions: 160 x 200 cm
  • Medium: acrylic on canvas