VIZGIRDA - 100
EXHIBITION DEDICATED TO THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE ARTIST
Radvila Palace (Vilniaus g. 22, Vilnius), January 20 - March 15,
Exhibition "Creative of Viktoras Vizgirda"
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
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.
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.
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
“ 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
That birthday which dawned a hundred years ago has become not an
ordinary day for Lithuanian painting.