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New exhibition

In the TARTLE exhibition ‘Solely Saints’, we welcome you to explore depictions of saints spanning from the 16th century to contemporary times. Among them, you’ll encounter creations by artists who refined their craft over many years of practice, alongside works crafted by our forebears, self-taught village artisans who fashioned these figures in accordance with their faith and individual methods and means. Some pieces emanate from a quest for piety, strength, and hope, while others embody a vision of devotion crafted solely for its own sake.

In our exhibition halls, we invite you to explore the central iconographic themes of Lithuanian folk Christian art, from universal images portraying sorrow (such as Pieta, Christ in Distress, and Crucifixion), Christian love and hope (Our Lady of Mercy), the struggle against evil (St George), and themes of repentance (St Mary Magdalene), to local imagery integral to the religious and national identity of the Lithuanian people, including Our Lady of the Gates of Dawn, Our Lady of Šiluva, and St Casimir.

Since the era of national revival, numerous Lithuanian artists and cultural figures have shown a keen interest in folk art. They collected its examples, painted, and photographed them. In 1908, Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis remarked that Lithuanian folk art ‘is our pride due to its pure, distinctive, and exclusively Lithuanian beauty.’ This fascination with folk art, particularly expressed in the statuettes crafted by god-makers, known as ‘little gods’, persisted through the interwar years and the Soviet era. Quite many artists amassed collections, large or small, featuring these statuettes. Painters, graphic artists, and sculptors often drew inspiration from these collections, seeking ideas, motifs, and visual solutions in their iconography and forms.

Within the exhibition, folk art and professional works converge around thematic elements, offering a unique juxtaposition that illustrates how self-taught folk artists and trained professionals alike interpret the same iconographic themes. For instance, motifs from folk art have played a crucial role in the works of expatriate artists such as Vytautas Ignas, Antanas Mončys, Adomas Galdikas, and Pranas Domšaitis, helping them to underscore the essence of Lithuanian identity. During the Soviet era, artists like Albina Makūnaitė, Augustinas Savickas, and Leopoldas Surgailis created religious-themed pieces ‘for the drawer’ and never exhibited them publicly, as they not only reflected religious beliefs but also expressed a certain opposition to Soviet ideology. Conversely, contemporary artists like Kazimieras Brazdžiūnas, Viltė Čepulytė, Jonas Gasiūnas, and Emilis Benediktas Šeputis approach Christian symbols with multifaceted perspectives. They embrace the weight of symbolism accumulated over centuries while exploring opportunities to deconstruct, reinterpret, and desacralize these images in their canvases while offering experimentation through their chosen medium.

Comprising over 150 pieces, the exhibition draws from the extensive TARTLE collection as well as contributions from various private collections. Dr. Jaunius Gumbis, Ramutis Petniūnas, Skaidrė Urbonienė, Mindaugas Vanagas, auction house ‘Ars Via’, MO Museum, and ‘The Rooster Gallery’ have generously lent several exhibits. The exhibition aims not only to unveil these treasures from private collections but also to underscore the enduring affinity of artists for Christian imagery and the collectors’ inclination to cherish them as objects of devotion.

Curators

Dr. Skaidrė Urbonienė, Emilija Vanagaitė

Architect

Sigita Simona Paplauskaitė

Graphic designer

Daiva Sakalauskienė

Project is financed by Lithuanian Council for Culture

In the TARTLE exhibition ‘Solely Saints’, we welcome you to explore depictions of saints spanning from the 16th century to contemporary times. Among them, you’ll encounter creations by artists who refined their craft over many years of practice, alongside works crafted by our forebears, self-taught village artisans who fashioned these figures in accordance with their faith and individual methods and means. Some pieces emanate from a quest for piety, strength, and hope, while others embody a vision of devotion crafted solely for its own sake.

In our exhibition halls, we invite you to explore the central iconographic themes of Lithuanian folk Christian art, from universal images portraying sorrow (such as Pieta, Christ in Distress, and Crucifixion), Christian love and hope (Our Lady of Mercy), the struggle against evil (St George), and themes of repentance (St Mary Magdalene), to local imagery integral to the religious and national identity of the Lithuanian people, including Our Lady of the Gates of Dawn, Our Lady of Šiluva, and St Casimir.

Since the era of national revival, numerous Lithuanian artists and cultural figures have shown a keen interest in folk art. They collected its examples, painted, and photographed them. In 1908, Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis remarked that Lithuanian folk art ‘is our pride due to its pure, distinctive, and exclusively Lithuanian beauty.’ This fascination with folk art, particularly expressed in the statuettes crafted by god-makers, known as ‘little gods’, persisted through the interwar years and the Soviet era. Quite many artists amassed collections, large or small, featuring these statuettes. Painters, graphic artists, and sculptors often drew inspiration from these collections, seeking ideas, motifs, and visual solutions in their iconography and forms.

Within the exhibition, folk art and professional works converge around thematic elements, offering a unique juxtaposition that illustrates how self-taught folk artists and trained professionals alike interpret the same iconographic themes. For instance, motifs from folk art have played a crucial role in the works of expatriate artists such as Vytautas Ignas, Antanas Mončys, Adomas Galdikas, and Pranas Domšaitis, helping them to underscore the essence of Lithuanian identity. During the Soviet era, artists like Albina Makūnaitė, Augustinas Savickas, and Leopoldas Surgailis created religious-themed pieces ‘for the drawer’ and never exhibited them publicly, as they not only reflected religious beliefs but also expressed a certain opposition to Soviet ideology. Conversely, contemporary artists like Kazimieras Brazdžiūnas, Viltė Čepulytė, Jonas Gasiūnas, and Emilis Benediktas Šeputis approach Christian symbols with multifaceted perspectives. They embrace the weight of symbolism accumulated over centuries while exploring opportunities to deconstruct, reinterpret, and desacralize these images in their canvases while offering experimentation through their chosen medium.

Comprising over 150 pieces, the exhibition draws from the extensive TARTLE collection as well as contributions from various private collections. Dr. Jaunius Gumbis, Ramutis Petniūnas, Skaidrė Urbonienė, Mindaugas Vanagas, auction house ‘Ars Via’, MO Museum, and ‘The Rooster Gallery’ have generously lent several exhibits. The exhibition aims not only to unveil these treasures from private collections but also to underscore the enduring affinity of artists for Christian imagery and the collectors’ inclination to cherish them as objects of devotion.

Curators

Dr. Skaidrė Urbonienė, Emilija Vanagaitė

Architect

Sigita Simona Paplauskaitė

Graphic designer

Daiva Sakalauskienė

Project is financed by Lithuanian Council for Culture