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Watercolour exhibition “THE ECHO OF CENTENARIES”

January 17 @ 17:00 - March 2 @ 12:00

Echo of watercolour centuries

Watercolour is an old and sophisticated technique. Its history and development is full of ups and downs: a compulsory study subject or leisure activity for noblemen, the beginning of a new trend in art, or sketches in travel albums – all this can be (an is) said about the watercolour. Nostalgic romantic landscapes in old postcards or modern, deliberate, abstract painting – all this is about watercolour. The creative sphere of watercolour is also full of complicated deliberations: some say that it is an easy technique, and thus watercolour paintings are not comparable to oil paintings and that watercolours are not long-lasting pieces of art. Although we cannot boast of young artists actively joining the ranks of watercolour painters, there are many examples demonstrating that watercolour is a tool of brave self-expression making it possible to reveal a variety of emotions and states by abstract strokes in unconventional formats. It should be noted that a watercolour painter needs solid foundations of art, long experience, courage and perseverance, as well as sensitive imagination and subtle ability to feel the flow of water and the characteristics of colour (pigment) in order to demonstrate impressive and intense results.

The organisers of the International Watercolour Biennial pursue the goal to nourish the tradition and look for innovations, introduce the best watercolour painters, and encourage young artists to try a hand at watercolour. The first international watercolour exhibition with a symbolic title “Baltic Bridges” was held in Kaunas after a long break in 2006. Since then, more than 400 artists from 20 countries were introduced in biennial exhibitions.

In 2018 we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Baltic watercolour triennials, which first started in Riga in 1968.  Those triennial exhibitions provided a possibility for Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian watercolourists to present their creative work to broader audience and look at each other. They had a significant influence on the development of characteristic national Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian watercolour schools.

In Lithuania watercolour gained popularity between the two wars thanks to painter Kajetonas Sklėrius. Č. Kontrimas and J. Mikėnas were active supporters and contributors.  Later, in the soviet times, A. Savickas, P. Stauskas, A. Lukštas, P. Porutis, E. Urbanavičius, I. Budrys, O. Jablonskis and many other painters of different generations continued developing this type of painting. Paintings of many of these artists were exhibited in that first exhibition in Riga next to well-known Latvian and Estonian watercolourists at that time. Unfortunately, we cannot admire the colours of those paintings in a small size and only black and white exhibition catalogue of a rather poor quality of those days.

Nevertheless, we are happy for the continuing tradition. The exhibition “Echo of the Centuries” introduces five painters from each Baltic State – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – who continue developing the art of watercolour. Lithuanian painters Voldemaras Barakauskas, Osvaldas Jablonskis, Rimvydas Mulevičius, Eugenijus Nalevaika, Vidmantas Zarėka are well known at home and internationally. Latvian painters Irena Lūse, Ieva and Janis Spalvinšai, Irida Lazdina have also participated in watercolour exhibitions in Lithuania and in international projects. Last year a young artist Oksana Vronska from Daugavpils won not only the Biennial Watercolour Competition jury prize but also a special prize established by the sponsors. Estonian painters Tiiu Pallo-Vaik, Mall Paris, Tuuli Puhvel, Eero Ijavoinen and Mari Roosvalt are also well known both to Lithuanian and international audiences.

Although many of the paintings were exhibited in the autumn of 2018 in the 7th International Watercolour Biennial “Baltic bridges 2018”, it has been long time since painters from the three “Baltic sisters” had a joint exhibition. We see this presentation of watercolour collection as a symbolic commemoration of the 100 year anniversary of regained statehood of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia states. The history of watercolour proves that real values are centuries-old. This is the truth of watercolour. At the first sight it is light, sensible and subtle, but at the same time it is complicated, fancy and revealing all its beauty only in the hands of a patient master. This is the truth of our freedom. When you reach it, you have to work hard every day in order to enjoy the desired outcome and create values to be transferred to next generations.

Organisers of the exhibition