The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Lithuanian Folk Artists’ Society
The exhibition “Fiftieth Anniversary of the Lithuanian Folk Artists’ Society” is open from 26 January to 20 March at The New Arsenal, Arsenalo Str. 1.
The exhibition marks the significant jubilee of the folk artists’ community and shows its activity in nurturing folk art and protecting the uniqueness of national culture.
Founded on 1 March 1966 as the Lithuanian Society of Folk Art and given its present name in 1989, the Lithuanian Folk Artists’ Society (LFAS) has seven branches with the sections of textile, knitting, applied carving, wickerwork, sculpture, graphic arts, painting, ceramic, smithery, jewellery, and art related to customs. These sections unite creative and ingenious people of different age and education, often gifted with several talents. The majority of them have the status of art creator, and their works are marked as national heritage. They participate in exhibitions in Lithuania and abroad, and budding folk artists learn from their experience and professional mastery.
In the words of the chairman of the LFAS Jonas Rudzinskas, this anniversary exhibition is a kind of report that helps seeing the directions and features of the development of folk art, as well as gives an overview of the authors and genres. The exhibited works have been selected by a panel of experts from regional exhibitions and from the collection accumulated by the LFAS.
A large part of the works represents fine arts – painting, sculpture and graphic art. Painting works are fascinating by the variety of themes, colour combinations and composition. Most often they are executed on canvas or cardboard, but there are some examples of ancient painting on wooden board. The landscape genre conveying the beauty of Lithuanian nature in different seasons is predominant. Images of the traditional village and scenes of daily life and calendar holidays are also popular. Beside the images of the homeland and scenes of various customs, there are some paintings on historical or mythological themes. Painters are quite fond of the still-life genre.
In sculpture there is a balance between sacral and secular content. Plots of religious sculptures become more varied, and original elements of colour and attributes appear. The representation of saints continues the tradition of god carving. Round sculpture is mainly exhibited, and several examples of bas-relief carving are included. In addition to wooden sculptures, stone works are also displayed. Iron crosses are shown as a unique and inseparable attribute of wooden folk monuments.
Woodcuts and several linocuts on religious and secular themes represent folk graphic arts. In these works mythological images, the tree of life and symbols of heavenly bodies are depicted in thin and light linear drawing. The works of graphic art represent Christian world perception. Besides, the exhibition includes papercuts that are close in character to woodcuts. They mainly feature motifs of folk songs, nature and calendar holidays.
There are a great number of works of applied art created from traditional materials – wood, linen, wool, clay, iron, amber, leather, and wood. The majority of them are creatively adapted for the needs of a contemporary user. Towel holders, boxes, heads of distaffs have traditional forms and are decorated with traditional techniques and ornaments. Ceramic artefacts show not only a creative approach to traditional forms and ornaments, but also the ability of the folk masters to give a unique and original style to the works. Coloured whistles attract the eye. Quite many textile artefacts – sashes, knits, and embroidered handicrafts – are exhibited. Whitework embroidery or cross-stitch is a diverse type of handicrafts having a long tradition. Along with patterned socks, mittens, and caps the visitors can see quite many wristlets and pouches that have become popular in the recent decades. National costumes are supplemented with amber and brass jewellery; folk artists tend to combine both materials in a single piece of jewellery. Some papercuts of applied nature – paperlace curtains and decorations for shelves – are shown.
Some works dedicated to the LFAS anniversary have been specially created for the exhibition. Art related to customs is represented in the exhibition by the symbols of calendar, family and seasonal holidays – masks, coloured Easter eggs, and straw artefacts. Pyramidal or fir tree-shaped straw decorations made in the traditional technique, adorned with birds and heavenly bodies, are one of the most beautiful in traditional Lithuanian culture. Resourceful folk artists find new ways of using straw and dried herbs and make sculptures from them.
The commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Folk Artists’ Society by this exhibition is significant not only as an impulse to spiritual and artistic expression, but also as a precondition for the survival of Lithuanian culture in the global context.