VIKTORAS VIZGIRDA - 100
EXHIBITION DEDICATED TO THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE ARTIST
The Radvila Palace (Vilniaus g. 22, Vilnius), January 20 - March 15, 2004

Virtual Exhibition "Creative of Viktoras Vizgirda"

Viktoras Vizgirda (1979)A Few Words on the Occasion of the Hundredth Birthday Anniversary
The life and oeuvre of Viktoras Vizgirda (1904-1993) can be viewed at and read as a book on art history of the 20th-century Lithuania. All the aspects of his activities were in one or another way associated with the processes of that history: artists' movements, new phenomena, art pedagogy, the turning points in art itself coinsiding with the periods of historical changes. Vizgirda's name is associated with a host of facts, dates, names, organizations, exhibitions, trips, articles, and all of them have entered into books now. Vizgirda devoted almost seven decades of his life to his creative work; museums, galleries, private collections boast hundreds of his works. His oeuvre - without any pauses and artistic “pits”, void of sudden turnings - is possibly too much concentrated on the same recurrent favourite motifs: green tree foliage, and a bluish sky, breaking through branches, a winding country-side sandy path with a chapel, wooden figurines of small idols standing at the flower pot. Even American environment which surrounded the artist for a long period of his life was too weak to change the vision of nature brought from the brush-wood of his native Visakio Ruda. He painted the environs of Boston or Los Angeles as if standing on some hillock in Suvalkija, only possibly less peacefully, with nostalgia.
V. Vizgirda, however, never was strained by nature. Among our 20th-century grand painters, he probably was the only one who enjoyed his freedom in nature at the same time manifesting his devotion to it. It was due to innate feel for the pulse of nature, an instinctive ability to harmonize it with his own character and painting idiom. He practically needed very little from environment in order to make painting have its say.
Stone Walls of Bernardines. 1943. LAMThe power of V. Vizgirda's landscapes rests in the melody of nuances. He has no equals in creating a particular vibration of lanscape, in spreading the intimate and lively moods of garden, wood, and the wayside scenes through small waves of colours, in enlivening his experienced impressions by means of strokes; in feeling how far he can go into painterly ecstasy Nuances in his scenes seem to be a warm melody. Justinas Vienozinskis (1886-1960) might have had that in mind when writing about V. Vizgirda's landscapes put on show at the exhibition of Society of Independent Artists (1931): “<...> his palette of music is composed of clear, very lively, sometimes even more piquant colours which differ in respect of warmth rather than the light - they are united by reflexive tones <...>. All of them flow in the shape of a colourful ornamentation from a young breast on a wide scale, creating highly resonant, young fairy-tales <...>. As Jolita Muleviciute put it writing about V. Vizgirda's early landscapes - an equilibrium between thought and feeling, a graceful ..hedonism of colour" was born. More examples can be given. My glance is fixed on “Landscape of Kaunas” (1930 (?); private collection), “Garden” (1930; Lithuanian Art Museum). “Landscape of Raseiniai” (1931; private collection), “Landscape” (1931; Lithuanian Art Museum), “Trees” (1938; Lithuanian Art Museum). They are the orchestrations of nuances pulsating with particular subtlety which - if ever happened so - would not disgrace the neighbourhood of the paintings by V. Vizgirda's favourite artists since his young days such as P. Cézanne, R. Dufy H. Matisse, P. Bonnard. The paintings by a Lithuanian artist always manifest their painterly ellegance, moderation, taste implanted by the lessons of French art. V. Vizgirda: “It is my ideas and the synthesis of the rhythm of nature that excite my mood. But I fail to express it due to my objective attitude” (1940). One more of Vizgirda's legacy deserves mentioning here: without the views of Vilnius painted during the war, no views of churches in Vilnius with their shining white towers seen through the branches of trees would have survived for our eyes to admire. Those paintings - a genuine string of his painting pearls left in Motherland before July 1944, which doomed a destiny of the war refugee. Several decades later, the clear and fresh landscapes of California, as well as the smooth pastels, all of which were created overseas at the sunset of the career, did manifestate the comeback of the soul to its youth.
V. Vizgirda ranks among talented Ars'ists, who devoted a much of an effort in order their works gradually found a niche in Lithuanian art. How weightily those young artists of the 1920s-1930s complemented each other making resolute steps in the direction of radical changes in art! What a sturdy tension of colour contrasts vibrating in Antanas Samuolis' (1899-1942) “White Apple Tree” (1932) or the pretty rough motifs of Vieksniai landscapes painted by Antanas Gudaitis (1904-1989) beside the above mentioned landscapes by V. Vizgirda, pulsating with nuances! How calm is Vizgirda's “Self-portrait” (1932, National M. K. Ciurlionis Art Museum) alongside A. Samuolis' nervous, inclined “Self-portrait with a Gramaphone” (1929; ibd.). In the summer, Berzoras and Visakio Ruda were the places which attracted Ars'ists the same way as some members of the Barbizon School to dive into the spaces of nature and relish the richness of landscapes. The paintings done in these villages of Zemaitija and Suvalkija have greatly contributed to Lithuanian art. It also holds true of the Ars'ists heralding the spring of art. They were happy to see a high-yielding harvest of their autumn work. The destiny V. Vizgirda doomed to be the last Ars'ist painter.
Californian Oaks. 1975. LAMLiving far from his native land, he always belonged to Lithuania and its culture. Three trips to Lithuania (1966, 1971, 1977) made a great impact on him and gave fresh impetus to creative work. His solo exhibition in the Lithuanian Art Museum held in 1966 - the first exhibition of émigré artist's works in postwar Lithuania. It served as a real bridge for Lithuanian art, bringing its two branches - the one here in Lithuania and the other across the Atlantic - into unity. He used to visit Lithuania with the slides of émigré artists' works and would return home with the same dowry of slides of Lithuanian contemporary artists' works. He used to write about exhibitions and artists, and noticed a great diversity in the field of creation, as well as identified phenomena which did not yield to Socialist Realism. He was attentive to the quality of art, and did not compromise when writing about émigré artists. Several collections comprised of his canvases were donated to art museums in Vilnius and Kaunas. He collected and donated his best works as an example to be followed by the future generations of émigré artists.
V. Vizgirda's entire oeuvre and life developed into an integral and unshakeable principles of life. His bearing, word, habits, behaviour and last but not least his oeuvre were clear, simple, original and humane. Everything he deserved - the respect and recognition of his pupils and colleagues - was reached thanks to his work and individuality. The black clouds pulsating with troubles and nostalgia passed over his grey-haired head more than once, however they neither turned his works into painful poses nor shook his spiritual equilibrium.
“ I was possibly born too early or too late. If I was born earlier, I might have had a chance to chatter in Italian, to sweep the floor in the Vatican or to have an opportunity to shake the hand of Michelangelo or that of Raphael. If later, I might have been buried as a hero who fell in the battle between empires. Thus, I am satisfied with my birthday <...>” - Viktoras Vizgirda wrote after the year 1975.
That birthday which dawned a hundred years ago has become not an ordinary day for Lithuanian painting.

Viktoras Liutkus

 

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