History and the Artist: Giedrius Kazimierėnas
The exhibition “History and the Artist: Giedrius Kazimierėnas” is open from 25 April to 16 June 2019 at The National Museum of Lithuania, Arsenalo Str. 1.
Events of the history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and their participants come alive in large-size canvases by the painter, professor Giedrius Kazimierėnas, which he has been creating during the last fifteen years. While interpreting the glorious history of Lithuania, the artist created a unique world of painting using a language of symbols and metaphors, in which unique expression is intertwined with facts found in authentic written and visual sources.
Born in the village of Teberiškė in the Švenčionys District, Giedrius Kazimierėnas enrolled in the State Art Institute (today, Vilnius Academy of Arts) in 1966. For the first two years he studied at the Art Teaching Department, and later switched to painting under the classic of modern Lithuanian painting, professor Antanas Gudaitis. Having finished his studies in 1972, Kazimierėnas began to work as a conservator of mural painting at the Culture Monument Conservation Company. During five years of his work, he was involved in the conservation of frescoes in the central nave of the Church of Sts John in Vilnius, polychromy in the Church of All Saints, a fresco on the pediment of the Bernardine Church and other objects. In 1980, the artist started to teach at the Vilnius Academy of Arts, where he is a professor until present. In 2002–2003, Kazimierėnas was a deputy Minister of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, and the chair of the Committee for the Preparation of the 3rd Cultural Congress of Lithuania. In 2011, he became a recipient of the Culture and Arts Prize of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania.
The year 1975 can be considered the beginning of his long career that gradually led him to the genre of historical painting. The artist started from creating several series of symbolic compositions conveying the relation of the contemporary individual with early cultures: “French Series” (1997), “Italian Series” (2000), “Greek Series” (2001), “Spanish Series” (2003–2005). In 2005, he began to paint monumental paintings on the topics of the history of Lithuania: Coronation of Mindaugas. Christianisation of Lithuania (2006) and Adoption of the First Statute of Lithuania (2006). Drawing inspiration from the pages of Lithuanian history, the painter expanded the scope of his themes and interpreted new plots: Zimburgė’s wedding (2007), Algirdas marching to Moscow (2008), Gediminas’s letters 1322–1324 (2009), Farewell to Kęstutis (2009), Algirdas’s victory at Blue Waters (2009), Prophecies of Vytautas’s defeat before the Battle of Vorskla (2010), Žalgiris. The day of wrath (2013), Vytautas waiting for the crown (2013), Gaon of Vilna (2016), Dubingiai altar (2017) and others. In 2010–2015, he created a series of three paintings “Black Tapestries”: Barbora Radvilaitė’s funeral I, Barbora Radvilaitė’s funeral II, Murder of Kęstutis. Killing of a grass snake. Before starting a painting, the artist studies historical literature, explores artworks and authentic artefacts characteristic of the given historical period. Surprisingly, multi-figurative large-size paintings create a sacral impression of mediaeval manuscript illuminations. The gilding and silvering of canvases adds a royal tinge to the history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania narrated by Kazimierėnas. In these technically complex and meticulous works the artist is assisted by the top-qualification conservator Audra Čižienė. Artist Virginijus Stančikas created the wooden décor of impressive Gothic forms for several of his paintings.
From the 1970s, Giedrius Kazimierėnas has been taking part in exhibitions in Lithuania and abroad. He held eleven solo exhibitions. His canvas Žalgiris. The day of wrath is exhibited in the permanent exhibition of the Medininkai castle, and Vytautas waiting for the crown can be viewed in the Trakai Island Castle. The exhibition is presented as one of the events of the continued series “History and the Artist” initiated by the National Museum of Lithuania, which centres on the relation of contemporary artists to historical plots and their interpretations.