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Sunrise by Ginters Krumholcs. Māksla XO gallery (Riga) booth

ArtVilnius 2018. "A Field Of Options" and more 0

Covering the art fair that was happening in Lithuania's capital from June 7-10

Lithuania has two things that sets it apart from other countries in the Baltic context. Firstly, there is a great four-lane highway between Panevėžys and Vilnius with the maximum allowed speed of 130km/h and which stretches for more than 100km, and secondly, the contemporary art fair called ArtVilnius which gathers the crème de la crème of the Baltic art community in Lithuania's capital. It is, without a doubt, a commercial initiative, and you could become the owner of one of the fair's art pieces presented in a wide price range, from a few hundred euros to a price with a few more zeroes.

But on the other hand ArtVilnius is not just about buying and selling but rather the fair is a big and respectable art festival which is, without a doubt, worth a visit, and it presents itself as quite significant, and not just at the Baltic level. The amplitude of its development is not halting, which is indicated by the current fair taking place in its usual Litexpo complex for the 9th time in a row. It’s not just the quantity of galleries exhibiting at the fair (this year it’s 55), but the overall level of quality and the combination of “commercial offers” and the objects and projects that are simply only exhibited in the framework of ArtVilnius. One of the spaces in Litexpo is called just that, “Projects”, and here you can find not just a sharp and relevant exposition by the crowned “king of black humor” Estonian artist Marko Mäetamm, but also work by a Lithuanian duo SetP Stanikas and their carefully thought-out and impressive installation “Tsar”. The tempo and level of the duo’s work is certainly admirable, considering just a month ago another Vilnius gallery Vartai exhibited their new and complicated work at their booth at Art Cologne.

Ivars Drulle at the Alma Gallery (Riga) booth

In “Projects” there is an installation by the Latvian artist Katrīna Čemme called “What is Lost is Lost Forever” (Katrīna won the Baltic Young Artist Award in 2017). If we were to talk about winners, then we should also congratulate another Latvian representative, Ivars Drulle, who won the title of Best Artist of this art fair. "Alma", the Riga gallery representing him, was chosen as one of the TOP-7 galleries of the fair. TOP-7 turned out to be rather international this year: besides Alma, there was Contour Art Gallery (Lithuania), Foku (Estonia), Galerie des Petits Carreaux (France), Kogo (Estonia), Piktogram (Poland) and The Rooster Gallery (Lithuania). Some of the most memorable from this list were the multi-layered statement from The Rooster, a gallery that has been exhibited at ArtVilnius for a few years, and an installation by the Estonian artist Laura Kuusk called “Field of Possibilities” at the Foku booth. It consisted of glass bottles with metal spoons in them, placed among several fans that blew air while the metal spoons clinked and the chorus of these sounds allowed one to switch off from the usual rhythm of the fair and to meditate upon that noise.

Field of Possibilities by Laura Kuusk. FOKU (Estonian Union of Photography Artists, Tallinn) booth

This year the focus of the fair was on the Baltic galleries (and in that sense, ArtVilnius is showing respect to the 100th year anniversary of these countries’ independence) and the Baltic “wave" was varied and impressive. As per tradition, the Riga gallery Māksla XO exhibited strong pieces as it brought not only painting of different formats (Ģirts Muižnieks, Ivars Heinrihsons, Ieva Iltnere, Artūrs Bērziņš), but also a sculpture by Ginters Krumholcs called “Sunrise”. You could look at the works of Aija Zariņa at the Agija Sūna Gallery booth, but you could also see Latvian artists represented not just by galleries from Latvia, but, for example, one of the galleries of TOP-7, a Tartu gallery called Kogo which exhibited an artwork by Elina Vitola called “Common Issues in Painting and Everyday Life”. And that was not the only gallery with an erased “national” context, like the Vilnius gallery Tsekh, originally from Ukraine and showing works by both countries’ artists. But of course Lithuanian galleries in general were represented the strongest and that was mostly due to painting and photography.

Jonas Mekas. Poets Never Sleep video by Audra Vau

A kind of “patron" of the whole affair was a video portrait of the master of avant-garde cinema, Jonas Mekas, smiling from a vertical monitor, holding a small camera in his hand aimed at the viewer – this is a work by Audra Vau called "Jonas Mekas. Poets Never Sleep". It was exhibited in an extensive part of the fair called "Takas" ("Paths"), which showcased sculptures, installations, video art and performances not directly related to the galleries. Here the Lithuanian sculptor Vladas Urbanavičius became the prize-winner of ArtVilnius, and another Lithuanian artist, Rimantas Sakalauskas, won the prize for the "best young artist” who exhibited a multi-component video installation, and this was not his first time winning a prize at ArtVilnius.

100 Metres of Art by Iveta Laure

There is a lot of art at the ArtVilnius fair and an artwork by a Riga artist Iveta Laure somehow reminds us of that, called “100 Metres of Art” – the passage to the upper “sculpture" floor of the fair was tied with bundles of her textile sausages. It seems very right that the fair is supported by cultural Lithuanian institutions and sponsors as it allows a real event to be created unclouded by the commercial component. On the other hand it would be wonderful if Latvian and Estonian galleries would be closely followed by more collectors of those countries as well. ArtVilnius is worth it.

Installation by Rimas Sakalauskas. Meno Niša gallery (Vilnius) booth

Sit Back, Relax and Enjoy the Rest of Your Life by Marko Mäetamm

Fragments of the Czar installation by SetP Stanikas

Holy Picture by Rūta Povilaitytė. Galerija XX (Panevėžys) booth

Performance Dolls 2.0 presented by Post gallery (Kaunas)

Common Issues in Painting and Everyday Life by Elīna Vītola. Kogo gallery (Tartu) booth 

Exposition by The Rooster Gallery (Vilnius)

Jumpers by Ievgen Petrov. TSEKH gallery (Kiev–Vilnius) booth

[An]atomic Industrial by Tauras Kensiminas

Shelving Units by Julija Matulytė and Vytautas Stakutis. Outside wall of the Litexpo building

Compound 1 & Compound 2 by Vladas Urbanavičius.

Object by Kestutis Svirnelis in the Projects hall

Untitled by Florian Auer. Piktogram gallery (Warsaw) booth

Exposition by Piktogram gallery (Warsaw)

Painting by Ģirts Muižnieks at the Māksla XO gallery (Riga) booth

Sunrise by Ginters Krumholcs. Māksla XO gallery (Riga) booth

Ivars Drulle at the Alma Gallery (Riga) booth