History and the artist: Julija Daniliauskienė
The exhibition “History and the artist: Julija Daniliauskienė” is open from 6 April to 11 June 2017 at The National Museum of Lithuania, New Arsenal.
Julija Daniliauskienė (1926–2009) is a folk artist, an internationally known master of paper cuttings, and a friend of the Šiauliai Aušra Museum. Her name is associated with the art of paper cutting, which is rather forgotten today, but which was very popular in Lithuanian households in the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. In 2008, Daniliauskienė gave a major part of her creative legacy (1,556 paper cuttings) to the Aušra Museum. Her works are part of the collections of other Lithuanian and international museums: National Museum of Lithuania, Lithuanian Art Museum, M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art, Kelmė Museum of Regional Ethnography, Domodedovo History and Art Museum (Domodedovo, Russia), and the Russian Ethnography Museum (St. Petersburg, Russia).
In 2016, we commemorated the 90th anniversary of Daniliauskienė’s birth. She was born in independent Lithuania into the family of Darija Zubovaitė and Stasys Pūtvis in Šilo Pavėžupis (Kelmė district), which she called “a childhood paradise”. In 1941, her family was deported from Lithuania (her father died in a labour camp). Daniliauskienė spent the most beautiful fifteen years of her youth in Siberia.
She came back to Lithuania in 1956 together with her three daughters and husband, ethnographer Antanas Daniliauskas (1926–1983), who had all suffered the same fate. Her husband supported his wife’s work and contributed to the revival and popularization of Lithuanian paper cuttings. In 1967, Daniliauskienė joined the Society of Folk Art (since 1990, the Lithuanian Folk Artists’ Union). Since 1958, the artist participated in exhibitions of folk art in Lithuania and abroad. In 1964, she organized her first solo exhibition of paper cuttings. In total, more than forty personal exhibitions were held. In 1979, her work was awarded with the Republican Paulius Galaunė Prize.
Daniliauskienė’s paper cuttings are a distinctive expression of contemporary folk graphic art. The main sources of her work – folk art, nature, and her own sensitive artistic nature – have blended together to reveal the mastery of her artistic technique, creativity and ingenuity. The artist developed the art of paper cutting from a single sign or ornamental detail to most complex compositions and decorative graphic works. Daniliauskienė remained an optimist, though she did not avoid grim themes and monumental expression. Exuberant plant motifs and abstract geometric shapes prevail in her cuttings. Her works are characterized by clarity of style and harmony.
Daniliauskienė has always been interested in the variety and beauty of Lithuanian nature. Trees, plants, birds and animals are among the most important motifs of her work. The paper cuttings presented in this exhibition allow to trace the artist’s steps from the repetition of motifs from nature surrounding her (“Meadow Grass”, 1966), early appliqués (the four-piece series “The Seasons”, 1960) to stylized works depicting plants (the series “Oh, Forest, Forest, Green Forest, Full of Small Birds…”, “Festive Song”, 1975), and complex abstract compositions (the series “Motifs of Ribbons”, “Rhythms”, 1985–1991, “Memory”, 1989–1990) based on floral and geometrical ornaments, and their rhythmic repetition.
According to the art critic Irena Kostkevičiūtė, “Like in our folk songs, in Daniliauskienė’s cuttings, the poetry of nature is expressed, the music of ornaments can be heard, and a pure and ceaseless interplay of decorative form manifests itself, becoming a source of innate and unselfish aesthetic satisfaction”.
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