On the sacred images

Old art is very inspiring. Mobilizing. Those real, noble faces of saints are like tuning forks – both in life and art. They are very Lithuanian, and at the same time very universal. I have a wooden figure of Virgin Mary of Mercy whose face is a dead ringer of the great stone figures found on Easter Island. In terms of my own work, I sometimes deliberately bring this sacredness closer and then distance myself from it just as deliberately. Sometimes I feel like running away from it and trying to see the meaning of the simplest man-made objects or, say, cultivated plants, and so on. Because I do not want to overuse sacredness; I want a fresh word and image. Therefore, it’s sometimes worthwhile to long for it. (From V. Žukas conversation with Nijolė Baronienė “Valstiečių laikraštis”, March 1, 2011)

How is painting women and girls different from painting men? To me, there is no difference. The most interesting thing for me at the time was the maturing body of a young girl or boy, exposed for public ridicule, without a shade of eroticism. Not only did I paint them with love, but also in order to sacralize their young existence. I felt the wish to protect those children with an iconic precision and soft, bright tones. And the prototypes of those figures were tiny photos from the post-war Soviet medical encyclopedia. I painted around 30 compositions, some of which vanished after a water pipe accident in our building’s hideout where I kept a few hundred of my works for decades. (Dr. Vidas Poškus / Vaidotas Žukas)

Crucifix. 1981 I drew winter in the Žydavainiai farmstead from imagination. Then I stashed it behind a wardrobe in the farmhouse. When I took it from there a couple of years later, the lower part of the painting was gnawed by rats. But that did not ruin the drawing, even adding a new meaning to it. It was something like a creative collaboration with mice and rats. When I took it to be framed, I asked the framer to put dark paper beneath the gnawed places. This somewhat expanded the theme of crucifixion. The sheet resembles a fluttering liturgical flag.