Aušra Barzdukaitė-Vaitkūnienė , 2008 01 15

Portrait of Cardinal V. Sladkevičius, oil, canvas. 102x74cm, 2001. DSCN 1587

In brief: In addition to author’s books, installations and objects, there is another field, which has not been analysed by critics and described, among Arūnas’ works – portraits. Some of them were ordered by institutions, others created at the order of life conditions.


The portrait is the genre of painting balancing on the verge – is it painting or only the repetition of reality? Especially when one is speaking about orders.


Even while painting portraits, Arūnas remained what he was. He used to say: “People… but there were only a few of them... Justinas Mikutis, some other... Justinas lived at my workshop, drank wine and talked, while I was painting.”


At that time Arūnas painted portraits of J. Mikutis – mature, psychological, in which painting survived. These are “Portrait No. 2 (Justinas Mikutis)”, 1983, oil, canvas, 100x80 cm, the present ownership of NMKČDM; “Justinas Mikutis” 1982-84, oil, canvas, 100x80cm, which is presently owned by Čiurlionis Art Museum as well. One more portrait of Justinas Mikutis is present at Silkeborg Art Museum in Denmark.


Living in Dovainonys, Arūnas painted the portraits of the poet Genadijus Aigi and his wife, who lived there at that time.


An interesting portrait is that of the poet Henrikas Nagis (1920-1996) who lived in Canada. The work has been granted to Maironis Museum in Kaunas by Arūnas. The portrait of the dying grandmother Elena painted in 1982 is painful and tragic. The work was created three days before the death of the grandmother.


Other portraits were ordered. The portrait of “Academic Z.Januškevičius” was exhibited at Kaunas fine arts exhibition at Kaunas Picture Gallery in 1985. Čiurlionis Art Museum owns “The Doctor’s Portrait” (painted in 1982, oil, canvas, 100x75cm). It is a portrait of Prof. V. Lašas.


Arūnas received the obliging order to paint the portrait of His Eminence Cardinal Vincentas Sladkevičius from Kaunas Archdiocese Curia in 2000. The portrait was needed for the Cardinal’s Museum and the Memorial Flat in Kaunas. The fact that Arūnas was chosen was the big merit of Dr. Laima Šinkūnaitė.


Arūnas accepted the order but was naturally thrilled. One evening he stated in a questioning tone that perhaps he should live ascetically for some time while painting such personality and to move to the workshop. Arūnas wanted to feel the importance of abdication. When the metropolitan Sigitas Tamkevičius visited the workshop in 2001, Arūnas stated afterwards that the archbishop liked the portrait of the Cardinal.


“The metropolitan Tamkevičius had some remarks about the red colour of the robe and asked to give greater emphasis on the Cardinal’s ring as it was important. He had no other remarks, and the portrait was accepted,” told Arūnas.


The second unfinished variant of the Cardinal V.Sladkevičius’ portrait remained at the workshop.

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