saints

What is the story of the appearance of Christian narrative in your work: did it form as the result of a spiritual quest or as some form of spiritual resistance? Perhaps, both?

Both, indeed. And much more. My existentialism wore me out, made me jaded; my head throbbed with the question – what is the use of this art and this life? So you can make powerful and, to a certain extent, original art. So what? Those unfinished answers to questions, and the burden left for other people (the audience) – were they worth the hassle, the damage done to you and your environment? And the Soviet environment was awfully depressing, the Soviet careerism in art and elsewhere. I hit a wall with my life and art. I was overwhelmed by the feeling of moral exhaustion, deficiency, futility. My friend ant teacher Justinas Mikutis, often said to me that “today, to become a true Christian you must first go through existentialism.” For a natural, catechistic Christianity inherited from grandmothers or parents didn’t offer satisfaction due to its security, bookkeeper-kind-of-attitude (you give to God this, and God in turn will give you that), and syrupiness which were never really present in the gospel. My existentialism also included the fatal fight of post-war Lithuanian partisans, and the terrible exiles to Siberia. On a broader scale, the lives of the first Christians and paintings in the catacombs were also existentialist. The constant balancing on the edge, without narcissism or familiarity. (Dr. Vidas Poškus / Vaidotas Žukas)

Portrait of Marija Borisevičiūtė. 1987 The sister of a martyr. In that year, we were living in the village of Drukčiai, near Kantaučiai Village. Fr. Petras Linkevičius was taking care of a few old women. One of them, Marija Borisevičiūtė, was blind. Within a few weeks I did about ten portraits of her. She was a perfect model – motionless, like Cezanne’s apple. When at dusk I would touch her ​​hand as a sign of goodbye, she would awaken from her rosary prayer, and marvel: “You’re still here?” When asked to tell about her brother, she told me about their childhood in Suvalkija, about her brother being a bishop inTelšiai; about his arrest and his incarceration in the cellars of the KGB. From what I’ve read and experienced myself – Bishop Borisevičius and his sister Marija were holy people.

Madonna. 1986 This is my own interpretation of the Great Madonna figure. The means of expression recall the catacombs or the colors and the textures of Romanesque frescoes. Such a method seemed the most appropriate to express a pious state.


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