Eglė Šlioževičiūtė
(student of art criticism of Vilnius Academy of Arts), 2009 07 08


In brief: Art is still a powerful force which may warn, inform, waken up or unite groups of people by shocking them in the present-day world. The author is speaking about the contemporary underground graffiti art as an effective response to political and other actions of today. She was encouraged to write about it by the retrospective exhibition of the artist Banksy in Bristol (Great Britain).

About 100 works of the artist are demonstrated in the city museum, and even 78 of them are new or not shown anywhere. Banksy is perhaps the biggest master of graffiti in Europe. He has gained recognition among street boys, sociologists, tourists and even art critics (photographs from the exhibition may be found here).

Banksy is a professional artist who directed his works towards the stencil stylistics of graffiti. Why did he choose this technique? It is clear, easy to understand, stylistically attractive to the society. Stencil graffiti works avoid cleaning on walls more often in cities. Moreover, graffiti is the easiest way to communicate and establish connections with the audience.

Vandal painting on walls is not a discovery of Banksy. Political and social activeness is constantly expressed in street of cities in this way. Central Asia, the conflict of Israel and Palestine was one of the hottest political points in the world not so long ago. A concrete wall was built around Bethlehem and the territory of Palestinians. The wall separating two hot points has also become the place which reflects the situation by artistic works. Banksy who created graffiti on Israeli wall stands out by artistic and politically drastic comments.

Meanwhile, returning to Lithuania and Vilnius, the capital of culture of 2009, the author observes that only few stencil graffiti works may be found in this city. They are silent and gaunt. It is not clear whether their purpose is aesthetic beauty or some resistance.

We have a perfect occasion – Vilnius is the European capital of culture of 2009. We may rule the world by art and criticise the political and economical situation we are dissatisfied with by art. However, the only work that moved the masses was the tube “Arch of Neris” created by Vladas Urbanavičius. This artist made the masses think what art was and how we should understand the aesthetics of our environment.

And where is the revolt of young Lithuanian artists and their wish to change the world? It is stated that our culture is dying, and social activity as a phenomenon has almost vanished. Critical articles about art are read only by editors, art critics and some dozen people who want to be among them.

We are still playing while creating the world of art.


It is written on the wall in Užupis: “It was the 21st century. We had names, paint, freedom, and nobody wanted to say anything.“

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