November 17, 2017 / December 6, 2017

Four out of Five

Recently in Vilnius, in October, the works of Bronius Gražys, Henrikas Natalevičius, Mindaugas Skudutis and Raimundas Sližys were exhibited in the "Titanic" exhibition halls. The exhibition was called "PAINTING", in the literal sense of the word, to tell the audience that the main thing in the art of painting was and is painting itself. The authors of the exhibition at the BAROTI gallery are the same. They are members of the famous FIVE, participants of an informal group who in November 1977 when the Soviet Union celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of the "great October" with parades and fireworks and celebrated the newly adopted USSR constitution, opened an exhibition of fellow students in the hall of the Art Foundation in the former Petras Cvirka street (now Pamėnkalnis street). The men were organized, energetic, and their exhibitions were held in the salon every three years until 1986 (1983 - Šiauliai), attracting the attention of both critics and the public.

What do they deserve? They contrasted the optimistic life of "mature socialism" with sharp grotesque images imbued with bitter irony, destruction, confusion and sarcasm. The young artists were attracted by the images of a strange, fragmented world, their works were full of surrealist visions, confusion of phantasmagoria, erotic and absurd scenes. The eyes saw the banality of the environment and signs of the monotony of life, accompanied by a constant deficit, the routine of social life. The Five usually reacted to the ideological clichés of "mature socialism" with mockery and irony, which was perhaps best conveyed by the author's note on Sližys's painting with painted amphibians: "Thanks to the party and the government for giving me the opportunity to see such paintings" (1979). The collection exhibited in the Baroti gallery is different from the one shown in "Titanic" (the works of 1976-1987 were reflected there). Much smaller, more modest and more delicate. These are the paintings of recent years (with a few exceptions), when the fervor of youth has subsided, the expressive voice of emotions has subsided, and in their place there is balance, a calmer relationship with the environment, and the desire to test all the powers of color. The motifs have also changed - more city, more nature, more land and sky. 40 years have passed since the first exhibition of The Five, it is natural that we need to think for a longer time, to take our time.  But does this prevent good paintings from appearing? - Viktoras Liutkus