Aušra Barzdukaitė-Vaitkūnienė, 2008 11 27 Arūnas is painting a kite in Garicula in May, 2005Year 2005 has come without snow, with eternal twilight. This year promised many new works and exhibitions to Arūnas.He was invited to participate in Beijing biennale (the Second Beijing International Art Biennale, China, 2005). He planned a trip to China in September. He waited and rejoiced for the future trip and told stories to Tomas in evenings how he would walk along the Great Chinese Wall.The 1st Lithuanian quadrennial of contemporary art was organised in the same year. Its curator, art critic from Poland Krzysztof Stanislawski visited Arūnas’ workshop. He was enchanted by the painter’s works and selected ten large-format canvases for the exhibition.Arūnas was preparing for the tenth anniversary of the Painting Department of Kaunas Art Institute of Vilnius Art Academy. He wrote a project with the department lecturers and students. He had an idea to invite lecturers and students from Riga Art Academy to Kaunas, to organise their exhibition at M.Žilinskas’ Art Gallery. Meanwhile, the exhibition of Kaunas lecturers and students had to take place at Kaunas Picture Gallery.One day we went to Vilnius. I headed to visit exhibitions, while Arūnas rushed to the Painting Department of Vilnius Art Academy regarding his issues. When we met, he informed me in a concerned manner that Viktoras Liutkus (Head of the Painting Department, art critic) invited him to Garicula and Tbilisi, to Georgia, to the international symposium of artists “Europe, Artists Open Your Heart as a Carpet”.I do not know why, but I asked Arūnas to refuse the trip. He was reluctant to go there as well. He considered the pros and contras speaking: “The trip does not attract me.”He had to go to Georgia in May. At the beginning of March he had no decision yet. He offered to Aleksas Andriuškevičius to go instead of him. Time passed and finally Arūnas decided to go saying that, if life offered an opportunity, one could not refuse it. He wanted to be an example for students and the son Tomas. Calming down us and himself, he spoke that it would be relaxation before future exhibitions, students’ works reviews and defences of diploma works.In evenings we spoke much about painting and works, which Arūnas thought of creating during the symposium.Arūnas: “I believe, everybody will be creating action works in Georgia. Painting encodes specific information which may be communicated only in this method. I see the meaning of painting in this. If one could do this better verbally or in any other method, one should do this.At the beginning paint turns into colour, i.e., it gains certain information. For this you have to pass tests on the palette (gain experience like in a man’s life). You have to relate colours by internal connections on the canvas which may be sensed while looking but which may not be rendered in words."“Still, I believe that in Garicula the painting should be very free, it should unite with nature, mountains, wind. I do not know yet what shape that will be, but rocks and their colours should be reflected on canvas. It has to be very free and unrestrained,” he spoke.Later Arūnas pronounced strange words:“It is egoistic to attach to one person, even if he/she is the dearest person. One has to love all people, like it is stated in the Bible. Whatever happens, we are always together.”I saw Arūnas off to the bus station on the early morning of May 7. He travelled to Minsk from there and flew to Tbilisi from the capital of Byelorussia.Soon we spoke on the phone, and Arūnas was glad for reaching the aim successfully.Still, I was tortured by some heaviness in the heart and tried to calm down myself that the week would pass soon. I went to work, Tomas went to school. Arūnas and I exchanged messages. Arūnas: “The Squirrel* is going to have breakfast. The weather is fine. 08 05 2005, 09:41.”“I am painting the 8 m long kite by brushes and went to the mountains yesterday. 12 05 2005, 07: 48.”“We are producing a carpet, it is warm as in summer here. How are you? We will head to Tbilisi in the evening. 13 05 2005, 10:50.”“The Squirrel is in Tbilisi already. 14 05 2005, 09:51.”“We will be hanging the kite and carpet together. 14 05 2005, 10:09.”This was the last message received from Arūnas.Later the participant of the symposium, the Dutchman Michel Krielaarso wrote in the catalogue: “Manana Dumbadze, one of the Georgian project organisers, informed that it was time to divide into groups of expeditions that would visit various cultural institutions. Some people went to “The House of Future”, i.e., the home for street children, an institution headed by bold women.”Karolina Jakaitė and Eglė Ganda Bogdadienė, who went to the same home of street children with Arūnas on May 14, 2005, told later that Arūnas said after stepping in: “This is the smell of life...”The home was called really symbolically ”House of Future”.Michel Krielaarso writes in the symposium catalogue: “It was the place where Arūnas felt bad. He left the building without saying a word and died from coronary thrombosis alone, in the street.We were all shocked. Has Arūnas died? How was this possible? Arūnas, the painter of the kite from Lithuania. This calm man, who showed photographs of his child, told about his wife, home, work. Arūnas, who was only forty-eight and who had so many beautiful future plans... has this man died?*The Squirrel – this was how we called Arūnas in our family. 

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