Vaida Viršutytė, 2011-12-06

In brief: The international Vitrum Balticum glass art project was organised in Lithuania for the fifth time. The idea of the event was born more than ten years ago, after the Lithuanian artists’ participation in the exhibition Nordic Glass 2000 in Denmark. A necessity to start specialized glass art exhibitions in Lithuania was raised. The first Vitrum Balticum was held in Kaunas the same year as the glass show of the Lithuanian and Latvian artists. Later it developed as the project of the Baltic and Nordic countries. It was decided to repeat the event every three years.

The project aims to represent changes in glass artists’ work, to reveal their new discoveries, to reflect a variety of artistic conceptions and differences among various glass schools.

The main exhibition of Vitrum Balticum has different conception every time. At first it was as if a continuation of the Nordic Glass 2000; Lithuanian traditions and qualities of the Latvian decorative glass were tried to be accentuated. The second exhibition attempted to convey works of different artist generations and to display the diversity of glass art tendencies. The creation of the young artists was represented in the third exhibition and the fourth show was dedicated to the innovations in the field of glass art.

This year the synthesis of two kinds of art – photography and glass – became significant.  This is why the exhibition Vitrum Balticum V. Image Memory was opened in a light and white Photography Gallery in Kaunas.  35 artists from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Russia participate in the project. Several topics dominate in the exhibition, such as environment, home, nature, human being, etc. All the subjects as if intertwine and create a unity. The attention towards other cultures and their art, life problems, human closeness is noticeable.

The subject of nature is depicted playfully in vivid colours and different shapes. Signs that symbolise water, earth and air are displayed. Works are created by using various technologies: painting on glass, hot glass casting, hot glass forming or even the fragile pate de verre.  

The work Afterimage by the Estonian artist Mare Saare became a peculiar synthesis of all ideas of the exhibition. Three photographs, three glass plates and three photographs of glass works are shown in nine little pictures. Photography and glass are joined perfectly here. Motives of geisha, butterfly and plants dominate in the images. Nature and human being are compared and paralleled. The work charms by links to the Eastern culture and is appealing because of recognizable elements of nature. The technology of this piece is also diverse: the artist painted, engraved and used heat to affect the glass plates.

Glass art exhibitions are held in Lithuania rather rarely but they are welcomed and significant. Aims and conceptions of the Vitrum Balticum are interesting and purposeful. Since the largest textile biennial in Europe is already organised in Lithuania, it could be hoped that eventually we will have a big event of glass art too.

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