Aušra Barzdukaitė-Vaitkūnienė , 2008 02 28

Arūnas Vaitkūnas at Centre Pompidou, 1989

Paris! Why is this city so magic for artists? Is this magic stronger for elder artists and artists of my generation? Closed by the walls of the Soviet period, we dreamed of wandering along streets of Montmartre, of sitting in outside cafes, looking through the glass of red wine to the play of lights and colours of Paris.


The first trip of Arūnas to the city of dreams occurred in 1989. It was organised by the Lithuanian Artists’ Union.


I know some episodes from the stories of Arūnas.


After arriving in Paris, they settled in Gare de l‘Est quarter. The station quarter, like similar quarters of other cities, did not charm them. They did not have much money and had to walk around with the group everywhere.


Colleges rushed to Musée du Louvre or some other “musée” eagerly. Arūnas and the painter Mindaugas Skudutis indulged into the air of Paris life and went to an outside café for a glass of red wine. They did not rush anywhere, they just sat and enjoyed it.


Later Arūnas told that he met the sculptor Antanas Mončys. The sculptor accepted him (perhaps some other artists) at his flat in Montparnas, rue de Vaugirard. They talked the whole evening and drank wine from leather wine sacks.


Arūnas memorised how the sculptor admired the form of an empty wine sack seeing a mask in it. Saying farewell, Antanas Mončys granted a Swiss knife to Arūnas, who paid one sou so that they would not argue with each other in future, if they meet again.


Arūnas cherished this knife and reminded that it was a gift from A. Mončys.


I remember how we met a young man while walking along Vilnius Street with the painter Aušra Andziulytė in Kaunas in the cold and windy spring of 1989. He stopped for a talk with Aušra and said nostalgically: “Chestnut trees are blooming in Paris already...”.


I did not know Arūnas then, I did not even imagine how he looked like (I was well familiar only with his painting), and A.Andziulytė did not introduce the met man.


Only those words left an indelible impression as if I had already experienced this bloom of chestnut trees.

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