Savannahs (demo)

2023 04 11–2023 04 29

The works on display are the starting point for the artist's large series of paintings "Savannahs".  It is like an introduction, a prelude or a pre-history to a long and colourful journey into the decorative world of plant and animal motifs. The landscapes in Savannah are full of ornaments, dashes and dots, which create a dynamic image that promises an encounter not only with the shapes and forms of exotic animals and plants, but also with mysterious archetypal or totemic phenomena. The author's imagination and vivid colours shine through here; it is like looking at the motifs of a distant land through the eyes of a child (in reality, the colours of the arid savannah are not necessarily so varied and vivid).  The artist has created a setting for a world that has not yet been entered by man, and the viewer's imagination is left free to create plots of what could happen in this environment (a safari, an encounter with one's own self or with ancestral spirits). Savannah motifs represent not so much specific places or flora and fauna, but rather the author's fantasy world, the intricate recesses of the unquenchable subconscious, the expectations and fears of the inner child, and the detachment of the inner child from the everyday reality and everyday life. There is not only fun in this fairy tale, but also a bit of tantalising fright, insecurity - the feelings that children experience when listening to creepy things: predators, evil spirits may be hiding behind the bushes and grasses. There is also a barely perceptible danger of losing the thread of reality, of being bewitched, of getting lost, of entering into this fantastic world. This sense of danger, this unease, protects the author from pointless decorativeness or "Disney-esque" depictions of humanised animals, and at the same time from a simplistic, sweetened treatment of the child's consciousness.        

Verdenė Monika Valkiūnaitė graduated from the Vilnius Academy of Arts with a Master's degree in scenography. She has created set design for the performances of the Kretinga Children and Youth Theatre "Atžalynas" and Klaipėda Puppet Theatre. She participates in group exhibitions and has held three solo exhibitions.

Verdenė Monika Valkiūnaitė about the exhibition:

The word "savannahs" sounded unfamiliar, magical to me as a child. Before I started painting the Savannahs series, I read and looked at many children's illustrations available on the internet. The pictures were mostly about animals living in the savannah in Africa. I saw animals of all shapes and forms, but they were always fun, playful and memorable. The longer I looked for material, the more I realised that I was still only a child myself. So I stuck to my play world on canvas, illustrating, replicating savannahs I had never seen, animals seen in the flesh in only a few European zoos, turning them into fragments of memories of my own childhood wonder and flashes of colour.

In this series of works, I explore the relationship with a place and an animal that I have not had the opportunity to know empirically and intimately

I am presenting a demo, the first paintings of the series, which allowed me to discover the style and to start telling my own story of the savannah.

Exhibition curator Elena Antanavičiūtė


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