Aušra Barzdukaitė-Vaitkūnienė, 2008 09 22




Art practice in Kernavė in 1990. (A. Lukštas on the left, A.Vaitkūnas – in the middle).


In brief: The restoration of Lithuania’s independence changed much in artists’ life, educational institutions, Lithuanian Academy of Arts.


Until then the former Vilnius Art Institute (present Lithuanian Academy of Arts) had to implement educational programmes prepared according to Moscow requirements. Many good lecturers were working, however, some of them were members of the communists’ party and feared more liberate expression of students in their works. The painter, member of the communists’ party Vincentas Gečas was the rector of Vilnius Art Institute at that time. He did not allow Justinas Mikutis to sit for students so that they would not hear words of truth.


The rector and some teachers were replaced after the restoration of independence at the students’ initiative. New lecturers were invited to the Painting Department according to their creative skills. Arūnas was also invited to work as a lecturer at Vilnius Art Academy. He was glad about the invitation but considered what he should do. He was sorry to leave Kaunas, move to Vilnius and start everything anew.


Educational processes became more active. Artists from abroad were invited to Vilnius Art Academy for a short while. The painter Kęstutis Zapkus arrived to the Painting Department from New York. His programme was new and intensive, he gave impulses to think differently to students. Arūnas read about it in the academy library and he was impressed.


Arūnas met with K. Zapkus in Vilnius after the opening of one exhibition in spring of 1992. There was much uproar, discussions and alcohol there. When discussions about art and Lithuania started, K.Zapkus stated that one should cross out everything in Lithuania, all traditions and villages with wooden churches, that new art had to be created. Arūnas who cherished traditions was shocked. He turned white and it was only a lucky accident that he did not start a fight with K.Zapkus.


He did not calm down and spoke about it for many days. It was a meeting of very different artists and positions. Still, it granted new ideas and thoughts. Arūnas was concerned of the situation of Kaunas artistic environment. He thought about rallying young people studying art in Kaunas. It seemed that while teaching at J. Naujalis Art School he did not have enough freedom for thoughts, he wanted to give away his experience deeper and more intellectually.


After returning from an art practice with pupils of senior classes along with the painter Algirdas Lukštas (1921-1992), Arūnas admitted that he could not discipline children as Algirdas Lukštas. Thus, when Arūnas was invited to teach at Kaunas Art Institute in 1993, he agreed.

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