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The first TARTLE exhibition – A Glance at the History of Lithuanian Art from Užupis

The gallery of the Tartle Lithuanian Art Centre is a new centre of attraction on the Vilnius cultural scene, situated at the highest point in Užupis, near the square at which Užupio Street divides into Krivių and Polocko streets. The first Tartle exhibition offers a view from the hill, looking to the north, west and south, to explore the peaks of Lithuanian art history.

The three halls on the ground floor, and the five halls on the lower floor, feature works of art from the late 18th to the early 21st century, which specialists have attributed to the treasury of Lithuanian art: 46 paintings, 13 sculptures, and two engravings. They introduce the huge Tartle collection, with more than 7,000 exhibits. The exhibition reveals three aspects: 1) the Lithuanian character of the collection and its orientation towards modernism and the classics; 2) the educational opportunities offered by the collection, which are enhanced by the gallery’s location in a historic part of Vilnius; 3) the effect that private collections have on boosting the value of the national cultural heritage, expanding our knowledge, and developing the ability to perceive criteria in assessing the cultural heritage.

The ground floor of the gallery joins reality with its artistically transformed image. In other words, in the three halls of the ground floor, visitors are offered a view of the surroundings of Vilnius through the eyes of 20th-century artists, to show what has changed, what is no longer there, and what has stayed almost the same as it was 50 or 100 years ago.

The exhibition on the lower floor emphasises the most important stages, ideas and their artistic incarnation, in the development of Lithuanian art. It is about trends, schools, famous names, and works that have become part of the national cultural canon. This part of the exhibition combines segments illustrating different creative strategies: the expression of colour and gesture painting, meditative art, and rational analysis.

The visitor can follow the development of the exhibition through themes. The beginning of the historic heritage of Lithuanian art is presented by Franciszek Smuglewicz’smasterpiece Esther before Ahasuerus, visible through the glass of a repository. The aim is to emphasise the fact that this painting, which is itself of exceptional value, represents a larger whole: art treasures accumulated in a particular storage, and what we have preserved or brought back to Lithuania. The beginning of the story of the national art is marked by paintings by famous artists such as Petras Kalpokas, Kazimierz Stabrowski and Antanas Žmuidzinavičius exhibited in the two smallest halls. The variety and dynamics of the growing area of art in the 20th century is shown by the number of artists who worked in Lithuania and abroad, illustrating a different relationship with the creative process and its results. This variety is summed up by three categories or concepts: contemplation, passion and synthesis. The latter is shown through the concentrated narrative in the Great Hall, which allows us to see and appreciate the diversity of Lithuanian art in the 20th century, what different forms developed, what the prevailing local tendencies were, and to what extent and how they were influenced by major Western cultures.

 

Giedrė Jankevičiūtė
Art historian, curator of the inaugural exhibition

The gallery of the Tartle Lithuanian Art Centre is a new centre of attraction on the Vilnius cultural scene, situated at the highest point in Užupis, near the square at which Užupio Street divides into Krivių and Polocko streets. The first Tartle exhibition offers a view from the hill, looking to the north, west and south, to explore the peaks of Lithuanian art history.

The three halls on the ground floor, and the five halls on the lower floor, feature works of art from the late 18th to the early 21st century, which specialists have attributed to the treasury of Lithuanian art: 46 paintings, 13 sculptures, and two engravings. They introduce the huge Tartle collection, with more than 7,000 exhibits. The exhibition reveals three aspects: 1) the Lithuanian character of the collection and its orientation towards modernism and the classics; 2) the educational opportunities offered by the collection, which are enhanced by the gallery’s location in a historic part of Vilnius; 3) the effect that private collections have on boosting the value of the national cultural heritage, expanding our knowledge, and developing the ability to perceive criteria in assessing the cultural heritage.

The ground floor of the gallery joins reality with its artistically transformed image. In other words, in the three halls of the ground floor, visitors are offered a view of the surroundings of Vilnius through the eyes of 20th-century artists, to show what has changed, what is no longer there, and what has stayed almost the same as it was 50 or 100 years ago.

The exhibition on the lower floor emphasises the most important stages, ideas and their artistic incarnation, in the development of Lithuanian art. It is about trends, schools, famous names, and works that have become part of the national cultural canon. This part of the exhibition combines segments illustrating different creative strategies: the expression of colour and gesture painting, meditative art, and rational analysis.

The visitor can follow the development of the exhibition through themes. The beginning of the historic heritage of Lithuanian art is presented by Franciszek Smuglewicz’smasterpiece Esther before Ahasuerus, visible through the glass of a repository. The aim is to emphasise the fact that this painting, which is itself of exceptional value, represents a larger whole: art treasures accumulated in a particular storage, and what we have preserved or brought back to Lithuania. The beginning of the story of the national art is marked by paintings by famous artists such as Petras Kalpokas, Kazimierz Stabrowski and Antanas Žmuidzinavičius exhibited in the two smallest halls. The variety and dynamics of the growing area of art in the 20th century is shown by the number of artists who worked in Lithuania and abroad, illustrating a different relationship with the creative process and its results. This variety is summed up by three categories or concepts: contemplation, passion and synthesis. The latter is shown through the concentrated narrative in the Great Hall, which allows us to see and appreciate the diversity of Lithuanian art in the 20th century, what different forms developed, what the prevailing local tendencies were, and to what extent and how they were influenced by major Western cultures.

 

Giedrė Jankevičiūtė
Art historian, curator of the inaugural exhibition