Synecdochical exhibit hints at the whole
20 posters show the range of Lithuanian art since independence
Posted: September 11, 2013
Parallels by Žilvinas Kempinas gives a flavor of a much larger installation.
Lithuania currently holds the presidency of the European Union, and is taking the opportunity to highlight its art and culture. An exhibition of 20 posters and a video are at the Nová Scéna (New Stage) of the National Theater, upstairs in Café Nova.
The exhibition is called Part of a Larger Whole. "The title …refers to the literary trope of synecdoche, when a smaller part is used to refer to the whole. The works speak of the most important episodes in Lithuanian art over the last 20 years, and mark the problematic aspect of selecting, and therefore, defining the 20 most prominent artists and their oeuvre," Asta Chaladauskienė, deputy head of mission at the Lithuanian Embassy in Prague, told The Prague Post.
She also pointed out that while the theme is Lithuanian contemporary art today, almost one-third of the featured artists spend the greater part of their time outside the country, and those residing in their homeland regularly take part in international shows.
The venue, the café upstairs in the big glass theater next to the more classical National Theater, is a bit unusual, but the organizers chose it for a reason. "We wanted to reach a broader range of the audience. Since the exhibits are not original art works - they are digital prints - they are more like hints, referring the art universe of each presented artist or part of a larger whole. Just one art work is exhibited of each presented artist. We thought it would be good to have a presentation of them somewhere in a widely accessible venue," she said.
When: To Sept. 30, 11 a.m.-midnight
Where: Café Nova, in the Nová Scéna of the National Theater
The initiative for the exhibit came from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania which wanted to present Lithuania and its culture during the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the EU. The ministry worked together with the Lithuanian Contemporary Art Center to find works since independence was re-established in 1990.
The artworks that come across best are the ones that originated as photos or sketches. "River," from 2006, presents a contemplative landscape by Arturas Raila. It is part of a larger series called Power of the Earth. Another photo, "Girl with a Flowery Skirt" from 2005 is a haunting image of an unsmiling young woman. The artist, Darius Žiura has gone across the country to remote villages taking pictures of girls in the same age group for this series. He also returns to a specific village every three years to photograph all the inhabitants.
Other posters ask you to imagine a more complete event. "Centers of the World/Enjoy Yourself" shows a dozen shots of Dianius Liškevičius standing on his head. The whole project has 400 photographs of him all over the world. He imagines that he is holding up the world, like Atlas.
An interesting image that works as a poster is "Parallels," which documents am installation where magnetic tape was strung in parallel lines across a ceiling, creating a space that suggests op art. The photo captures a lone observer contemplating the converging lines.
The exhibit also includes a video, showing next to the winding stairs on the way up to the café. "The audience in Prague will be introduced to a concept marrying contemporary art with the popular genre of reality TV. The project, launched by the Contemporary Art Center in the fall of 2004 upon the invitation of a commercial television channel, comprises a set of excerpts of a weekly TV series," Chaladauskienė said.
The posters will be in Café Nova until the end of September. Overall, if you make the effort to put the images in context, the show does give a flavor of a much larger art scene. Hopefully some more complete restrospectives of some of the artists' works will eventually find their way to some larger gallery spaces.
Raymond Johnston can be reached at