Ugnė Kraulaidytė
www.kamane.lt, 2012-02-23

In brief: The best artwork of the year, selected annually at the exhibition of the same title at Kaunas Picture Gallery, was announced for the 14th time already. The aim of the exhibition is to provide a possibility for all artists to show their work, for art critics to grope the main tendencies in the present art and for viewers to have a joy of selecting the best work of the year.

There are barely any limitations – no jury or curators are involved in the process, no genre or topic is offered to artists. This is the reason why the exhibition usually is characteristic of variety of techniques, styles, themes and artistic quality. The latter aspect is the most questionable: while visitors enjoy the beauty found in the show, art critics complain that there is nothing to look at.

During the decade of organising the exhibition, many solid artists quit participating in it. This resulted in a mess of doubtful works, having an ambitious but unrealistic title but still attracting large numbers of museum visitors.

This year the jury of the museum consisting of art critics and artists announced the best works of the year: the painting triptych ‘A Lonely Bird’ by Alonas Štelmanas, the textile work ‘Desire of Life’ by Zinaida Dargienė and the graphic work ‘Hieronymus Bosch Observing Fliers in the Sky of Kaunas’ by Egidijus Rudinskas. The Kultūra and Suflerio Būdelė cafes gave their special prize to Elena Brazdžiūnienė for the painting ‘One Man Army’. The viewers selected the textile work ‘Three Ways of Seeing’ by Laura Obelevičiūtė.

The winners were announced briefly, without commentaries how the selected works were special. Nobody asked why the votes were given to one or another work (maybe a voter was a friend of a fan of an artist, or maybe a work really amazed by its innovation, mastery, etc.). According to one of the jury members Kristina Civinskienė, professionalism, innovation and consistency were the main criteria of selecting works.

87 visitors who voted for L. Obelevičiūtė’s Master’s Degree work ‘Three Ways of Seeing’ (supervised by Loreta Švaikauskienė) negate the hypothesis that viewers prefer works of a realist manner and prove that the work’s size is a part of the impression. It seems that in exhibitions of such type size becomes a trump: large works attract the attention. The size is not the only strong quality of the work: an original technical solution, playing with dimensions caught the eye and liberated it from boredom.

Asking if the announced works were really the best ones of the year 2011, another question is raised. What are those best artworks selected from? The festive exhibition reminds of a glistering soap bubble – a nice surface without inner quality. Younger artists occupy the exhibition, using an opportunity to introduce themselves to society. The older generation avoids it for various, mostly personal, reasons.

Apparently, the most positive aspect of the show is a great number of its visitors and the democracy of the event. However, the way of organising the exhibition becomes a flaw in terms of quality. Maybe it is time for organisers to renew, for solid artists to wake up and for the young ones to strengthen their positions.

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