Aušra Barzdukaitė-Vaitkūnienė 2008 06 27 A.Vaitkūnas. "Cosmos of Samogitians", 1988, canvas, oil, 171x100 cmWhile speaking with Živilė Ratavičiūtė, who wrote an article about him “Longing for Truth and Archaism”, in 1993 Arūnas emphasised that his attraction to Samogitia has remained: “Real things exist there. This is why I go to Samogitia when I long for truth and archaism.”He constantly came back to Samogitia. Once Arūnas and the painter Eugenijus Varkulevičius lived in Beržoras, in the home of Julytė Gadeikytė. Eugenijus stayed there earlier already. He painted improvisations of Beržoras church stations. Then Arūnas came. He started painting copies of stations here. He used to help Julytė with her house chores, chopped wood.Later, after about ten years, Julytė wrote a letter to Arūnas: “I wish to your family cosy and sunny days; if sometimes a shadow overcasts the sun, do not fear, it will shine even brighter after the shadow goes away. I wish you, Arūnas, and your wife light daily mood. If you plan to write to Eugenijus, please remind of my concern about the paintings that he has left here. They are at my home, but I am not sure how long I will be able to look after them. My days are coming to an end. Where shall I place art? Ask him to write me. Once again: be happy and healthy, healthy and happy. Truly yours, J. Gadeikytė. P. S. Pardon me for my writing and mistakes – the eyesight is weakening.”Julytė was the lighthouse of Beržoras. She tidied up and maintained the church. Justinas Mikutis also used to stop by in her house near the road and the church. It was him, a Samogitian, who showed us, painters, real art treasures in Samogitia.Arūnas use to remember: “Justinas showed Samogitia to us. He took us to old wooden churches and made us watch stations. We looked at the painting but did not see it at the beginning. Justis opened our eyes – we felt the painting itself. It seems to be banal but in fact it has such strong composition! The stations are of a strange composition in Beržoras, they are grey, no red colour is used. The Christ in grey clothes seems to be standing on the cross rather than to be crucified. The trips with Justis were beautiful.”E.Varkulevičius, Arūnas, Algė Stankutė, Justis, painter Audrius Naujokaitis used to discuss about the meaning of art and existence at the table in Julytė’s home. J. Mikutis cited Boris Pasternak, Mandelstam. After sleeping on the hay, they set on trips. They walked from Beržoras via Plateliai to Gintališkės church speaking about painting, art and belief again.They walked from Beržoras to Žemaičių Kalvarija, Seda. They visited Gegrėnai church with a strange cross in which a symbolic sign of a fish is present. They spoke with the priest in Šateikiai, visited the native village of V. Mačernis - Šarnelė. They saw the big stone of Barstyčiai.Arūnas knew all these routes by heart. He remembered in which church the confessional with interesting paintings or a painting of strange colours was. He filled notebooks with drawings of folk sculptures, sketches of met people while travelling. Sometimes he marked combinations of colours or put down what the colour of one or another object was.Samogitia was a kind of spiritual refreshment to Arūnas in search of authenticity. All these trips enriched his paintings with new motifs and colours.

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