Vytautas Kasiulis Museum of Art of the Lithuanian National Museum of Art bids farewell to autumn by holding an artistic event of significance. At 6 p.m. Thursday 30 November the museum opens an exhibition Žibuntas Mikšys/Kad būt sugrįžtama/Hoping for a Homecoming /Pour qu‘on revienne. The centenary exhibition offers, for the first time, a comprehensive overview of Žibuntas Mikšy’ creative legacy, and sheds light on his artistic and intellectual milieu.
‘It is impossible to discuss Mikšys singly as an artist, he was a person engaged with multiple spheres of intellectual activity, who acted as a catalyst, intellectual and emotional, of the Lithuanian cultural world in want of authentic landmarks and sources. His critique, the books he shipped to Lithuania, his help with the return of the archives to Lithuania offered sustenance to Lithuanian artists and intellectuals suffering behind the Iron Curtain. Occasionally Žibuntas’ criticism was rather bitter and scathing, but behind it you could not but feel his painful concern that Lithuania rejoins more promptly the family of civilized European states’, says Dr Arūnas Gelūnas, director general of the Lithuanian National Museum of Art.
Seven cosmopolitan creative decades
It is the first exhibition of Žibuntas Mikšys of this scope tracing his seven-decade–long creative career. Better known as a creator of miniature prints of refined aesthetics, Mikšys in this event is introduced with his large-scale lettered graphic prints which he started to produce when he lived in the United States.
The fields that attracted him – the theatre and German literature – linked naturally with the illustrations of fairy-tales and plays. Post-war years brought in characters with whom he shared a hard refugee fate. The exhibition presents series of views of Paris and Venice, also examples of small-size graphic art – the prints populated with texts, also bookplates, collages, artist’s scrapbooks, the latter being a rich and unknown part of his legacy. These diaries of a special form for recording one’s thoughts were constantly supplemented by the artist, recreated, sometimes gifted to close friends. Among them were also the ones which helped to navigate in a maze-like complex world of the studio, notes and the works of art.
‘Mikšys is usually cited as a graphic artist. He indeed mostly explored this medium in his art. Graphic prints enabled him to connect three vitally important spheres of culture: theatre, art and literature. Aside from the early Expressionist figure compositions and later occasionally recurring landscapes, the rest of Mikšys’ work (lettered compositions, illustrations, bookplates, pastiches) one way or another relates with the book, text, theatre, with the world of imagination that one can take along to anywhere in the world; one can also plunge into it easily no matter the place – yet better if it is a place like Venice or Paris, which stimulates imagination and offers motifs for creation’, states Prof. Dr Giedrė Jankevičiūtė.
Links with the like-minded colleagues of the world of art
The nucleus of creative ideas and friendships of Mikšys’ career was Jacques Desjobert’s lithography printers in Paris. The Johnny Friedlaender’s graphic art studio that operated there kept Mikšys engaged for thirty-two years, the time of intense exchange of ideas. From the studio he built links with the artists of different countries, German Rainer Gottlieb Mordmüller, French Brigitte Coudrain, Swiss Fiorenza Bassetti, Lithuanian graphic artist Linas Jablonskis, his future creative collaborators. The artists exchanged their copper plates with started work and developed each other’s ideas. They also dedicated to each other their prints, bookplates, collages and postcards. The spirit of experiment was a unifying force of their tandem with his wife Miriam Meras.
Mikšys broad correspondence reached his addressees in different countries and the artists in Soviet Lithuania. A separate part of the exhibition introduces, for the first time, examples of his postal art, stylistically linked with the work by the artists-rebels of the official canon Vincas Kisarauskas, Vytautas Kalinauskas, Valentinas Antanavičius, Edmundas Saladžius and others.
The exhibition includes video materials from the musicologist Vita Gruodytė’s private archive and video projections created by the stage director Jonas Juozapaitis.
The exhibition features 150 works from the Lithuanian National Museum of Art, Vilnius University Library, the Lithuanian Literature and Art Archives, from Janina and Vygintas Ališauskas’ collection and from other private collections. Fiorenza Bassetti and Arūnas Gelūnas have gifted artwork to the LNAM on the occasion of the exhibition.
Žibuntas Mikšys/Kad būt sugrįžtama/Hoping for a Homecoming /Pour qu‘on revienne at Vytautas Kasiulis Museum of Art (A. Goštauto g. 1, Vilnius) of the Lithuanian National Museum of Art opens 30 November and will run through 17 March 2024.
The exhibition will be accompanied by an extensive programme of events, including educational for children, youth, families, adults and the disabled.
Exhibition curators: Erika Grigoravičienė, Ilona Mažeikienė, Regina Urbonienė.
Exhibition architect Jurgis Dagelis.
Exhibition designer Marius Žalneravičius.
Project supported by Karin and Uwe Hollweg Foundation in Bremen, by Rainer Gotlieb Mordmüller.
Information supporters: LRT, Cultural Attaché Office of the Republic of Lithuania in France, Cultural Attaché Office of the Republic of Lithuania in the Federal Republic of Germany, Lithuanian World Community