Best Artwork of the Year exhibition: maybe we need to set some criteria? 11

Miglė Munderzbakaitė, 2015-02-19
Pranas Griušys "The Police is looking for them."

In brief: "Total freedom" provided by the initiators of the exhibition "Best Artwork of the Year", a dozen years ago, does not seem to be working. What we see at the Kaunas Picture Gallery is not a very impressive exhibition. Only very few artists are capable of showing something new. Maybe the organizers should consider proposing a some sort of direction to the exhibition?

This year's exhibition gladdened with two things: first - participation - 117 brave artists from Kaunas entered the exhibition and hoped that their works will be considered best (this negates a common observation that artists are modest people will low self-esteem). Second - exhibition and the award ceremony attracted an even much bigger crowd of visitors than last year. But is courage and the quantity of visitors enough to view the exhibition in a positive light?

Traditional exhibition of the year is, as usual, dominated by paintings. There are some attempts at creating installations, one of them - an interactive installation by Mantas Kuginis "Porn Nesting-box", which seems to have been inspired by "50 Shades of Grey" fashion that is currently soaring in our society... Visitors were also able to see some works of textile and photography (Romualdas Požerskis photograph "Burning Man Festival" won the prize of the jury). This year, gallery's halls accommodated quite a few sculptures, which, by the way, received attention and positive assessments (Vytautas Umbrasas "Boat", Danielius Sodeika "44 Approaches to Reality"). It is obvious that authors chose traditional means of expression, but isn't it possible to achieve good results using them also? I believe so - if the chosen tools and technique is used to the maximum and performed professionally. Unfortunately, not all the works look like they have been created professionally.

Although exhibition did not surprise us with innovation, but visitors carried out their annual obligation. They voted alongside the jury and picked the best artwork of the year, which is paintings by Pranas Griušys "The Police is looking for them." This decision was not that unexpected - author has been repeatedly awarded in the exhibition. The winner's work consists of 12 portraits of different monkeys. Looking at the overall context of the exhibition, the work, of course, stands out with its mastery of professional execution. The series of paintings also have an intriguing (pre)history, told by the artist himself: apparently, alongside these portraits there had to be 3 acts of his female colleagues, but we did not see them in the final exhibition. They had mysteriously disappeared.

The author of the text could not say that she saw all the exhibitions of "The Best Artwork of the Year" (they started in 1999), but she had definitely visited quite a few. That is why many thoughts and questions arose, which I would like to summarize. First - do authors, who bring their works to the exhibition, really think their work is the best in the whole town, and not only in their personal creative biography? Is it really a good thing when a visitor of the exhibition, while looking at a work of art from the furthest point of the gallery already recognizes the author? Surely, unique style of the artist is always valued, but if it does not change for decades isn't it then, a creative stagnation which does not let artist to move forward?

In order for the exhibition to have a unique atmosphere and not only a huge amount of scattered works of art it needs one, or more, criteria in selecting the works. Perhaps it could be a criteria of quality or professionalism, which would help avoid the amateur works. Chaos can be dealt with, by naming the concept of the exhibition, by proposing one or few topics for the artists.



Photos by Miglė Munderzbakaitė

Read comments
Write your comment