Rasa Andriušytė
www.kamane.lt , 2009 10 19

In brief: The exhibition of Česlovas Lukianskas “Moto-graphics – Over-painting – Over-binding” in the picture gallery of the National M.K.Čiurlionis Art Museum looked attractive; a lively exposition of objects, assemblages, photographic prints and paintings was created that was remarkable for the variety of forms and intrigue of themes. In assemblages created in 1975-1988 the daily world is dismantled, connections and destinations of things are replaced and plastic unity is constructed again, as it was usual for the Lithuanian art of the ninth decade. Contrasts awaited for the viewer at the same time: a large and impressive photograph of a teenager (“Son’s Portrait”, 2005) from the performance of Č.Lukenskas “Artist of Birds”, other photographs (“Moto-graphics”) that reflected the painful and self-ironical attitude of a mature artist to himself and the present world. A vivid accent of the exhibition is the famous series “Re-staring” created by Č.Lukenskas since 1990. It is continued creatively in the series of smaller objects “Signs” (2002-2005). After some efforts with plastic of fabrics and real space of the gallery (“Recoveries”, 2009, relief “Vatalai Sacrum”, 2005-2009), Česlovas flooded the viewer by abundance of acrylic paint colours. It is a rather unexpected and the freshest part of his creation, mostly works of the year 2009.

Č. Lukenskas. Landscape. I-III. 1988

The general dynamic feature of the exposition corresponded with the image of Č.Lukenskas as an active creator. However, the entirety of his works was not fully revealed in the exposition. The selection was strange: there was no note about the actions of this artist (1988-2009) significant to the history of Lithuanian art in the retrospective exhibition. Members of the group Post Ars Robertas Antinis and Aleksas Andriuškevičius admit that Česlovas is the source of creative energy in their group, an expressive and inspiring figure who encourages them to think not only about plastic elements and forms but also about sound. Still, to become sure about the achievements of Č.Lukenskas as the reformer and avant-garde artist of Lithuanian art of 1990, one had to see the exhibition of Post Ars group at Vytautas Magnus University gallery 101.


When speaking, Č.Lukenskas always emphasises the necessity of creative action and energetic deed (reading, studying, writing of poetry, craftsman's work). The mysterious title of exhibition “Moto-graphics – Over-painting – Over-binding” most probably hides the thought about the constant attempt that continues for 30 years already to overcome the resistance of harsh and traumatising environment and matter. The exhibition included not only works created by Č.Lukenskas but also works that suffered from his active deeds greatly, that were over-bound, over-painted, tied up, written on, sewn, penetrated, affected by chemical reactions, etc.

“Moto-graphics” is the photo documentation of actions implemented earlier, it is the most drastic and provoking part of the exhibition (“Wall of Icons”, “A Bug”, “A Pig”, all in 2005). The photographs show a mix of social anger, wild spree and ugliness, laughter with tears. Without caring what people might say, Č.Lukenskas presents a bunch of actual social and ideological questions boldly about the essence of art, present world and place of artist in the society.

Č. Lukenskas. Meat-eater. 2005

Č.Lukenskas. Teenager’s Head. From the performance “Artist of Birds”. 2005

3D objects created as symbolic signs – stars, crosses hidden under layers of cloth – are called by Č.Lukenskas by the name invented by him “over-binding”. This is how the artist changes the form and meaning of a sign. Now the stars of Česlovas become human or animal-like, they remind of formless amoebas and energetic butterflies. The tendency is slightly dangerous: the newly created stars do not have political meanings and they loss weight in this way moving to the field of pop-culture in this way.

Č.Lukenskas. Object from the series "Re-staring". IV. 2002-2009

Č.Lukenskas. Object from the series "Re-staring". VI. 2002-2009

Č.Lukenskas. Object from the series "Re-staring". VII. 2002-2009

Č.Lukenskas. Object from the series "Re-staring". 2002-2009

It is much more interesting to watch the series of signs entangled in cloth and ropes (“Signs”, 2002-2005). After becoming mutants, they broadcast the message about the forlorn and forgotten things. The series of “Signs” hides the vision of pain, trauma and stigma actual for the artist at the moment.

Č. Lukenskas. From the series "Signs". 2002-2005

Č.Lukenskas. Signs. 2002-2005

“Over-painting” is the transformation of painting into object art. In fact, this transformation is a question that is interesting only for a narrow circle of artists. The painted “Totemic Plates” (2002-2005) are rather far from object art. They performed the role of a rhythmical accent in the exposition hall. The painting formed of many segments “Dripping against Gesticulation” (2002-2005) is a retrospective experiment that reminds of a fragment of art history and painting technologies that did not interest anyone in Lithuania, except for Rimvydas Jankauskas-Kampas perhaps.

Č. Lukenskas. Dripping against Gesticulation. 2002-2005.

Another part of paintings of Č.Lukenskas, acrylic paint on canvas, is really intriguing. It has almost no relations with the main Lithuanian painting lines and traditions of colours. The artist remembers the paintings of Kampas well that seemed like a wild cry in the background of Lithuanian traditions in the last decade of the 20th century. Also, Č.Lukenskas is familiar with a much wider field of possibilities of painting. The colourful surfaces and the superficial humour of the artist turns the act of painting into action, creation of action rather than final and pure values of painting.

The paintings of Č.Lukenskas are strong by the grotesque, ironic and non-depressing plots and the harsh, sketch-like and consciously primitive manner of painting that derives from the mix of vital energy of the artist and intellectual aggression.

Č. Lukenskas. Three Tumours with Ties. 2009

A hostage of modernist art?

The works of Č.Lukenskas were presented in the Picture Gallery, the artistic language of which still balanced on the border of late modernism and post-modernism. This was also emphasised by the author of the exhibition by describing the aim of the exhibition by the paradigm of modernism: “To show relation between surface and space, to demonstrate how depiction matured in creation from painting, collage, assemblage to object art and installation.”

The aim is retrospective and museum-like, to tell the truth. The author of the article states to have found no answer why the artist made so much effort to check and interpret the creative trajectories of late modernism in the exhibition. An impression was made that the artist tested and tested how the strategies of various modernists, which were exhausted in the 5th-8th decade of the last century, worked. Perhaps it is an honest attempt of the artist to compensate for the traumatic experience of an artist who matured in the Soviet times? Or perhaps the general provincial environment of Kaunas and the country of the 21st century tortures him?

Č. Lukenskas. Vatalai Sacrum. 2005-2009

Č.Lukenskas. Recoveries. 2009

Not to Calm Down or Not to Die?

It was unexpected that the avant-garde artist of the 90s presented himself so calmly in the personal exhibition. It seemed that the Post Ars member Č.Lukenskas did not want or could no longer be the extreme artist of Lithuania. It looks like it was not the real Česlovas but the artist that suffered from provincial life much.

The art critic Kristina Civinskienė wrote in Kultūros Barai (2009, No. 9) after the exhibition of Č.Lukenskas that the creation of this artist did not let Kaunas die. Still, it is hard to say who the present unsettled artists of Kaunas who would move life related with art in the city are. It is so calm in Kaunas that one starts feeling uneasy. This is why it was worth discussing the exhibition of Č.Lukenskas.

The exhibition was rather interesting, even majestic in the context of present exhibitions of Kaunas. At the same time, it reflected the slightly surprising creative mutations of the artist himself. In addition to wonderful features, the author notices some sad symptoms of Kaunas artistic life. To rephrase the aforementioned colleague, one should say that the works Č.Lukenskas with their positive and negative features do not let the complicated, deep Kaunas art that leaves traces and scars die. We are speaking about art left by the “break generation” in the history of Lithuanian art, starting with Arūnas Vaitkūnas, Rimvydas Jankauskas-Kampas and ending with the activity of Post Ars group. There is a great difference between words “not to calm down” and “not to die”. It is understandable – it is much more pleasant to be some stimulator rather than some re-animator.

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