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Antanas Kazakauskas “ALL IS PROGRAMMED”

2021 November 19 @ 10:00 - 2022 January 8 @ 12:00

exhibition of graphic art, book art, and graphic design commemorating Antanas Kazakauskas (1937–2019)

All is programmed. This was the phrase that Žygimantas Augustinas, who had had a close relationship with Antanas Kazakauskas for the last 30 years of the latter’s life, pointed out in his recollections as having been one of the main pillars of Kazakauskas’ philosophy. “I remember his explanation of what art is: “Say, a man is walking in the meadow, and he starts singing. Maybe he can’t sing very well, maybe he even does not have an ear for music, but still he is singing.” […] Antanas was a fatalist who insisted that nothing depended on a person, that all was programmed.”.

This phrase by Kazakauskas became the foundation of the exhibition and the book concept. Programmed events, style codes, quotations, various ciphers, and links were sought by examining the newly discovered graphic works, posters, examples of book design and magazine graphic art by Kazakauskas, preserved mostly in his personal archive.

Antanas Kazakauskas was born on June 26th 1937, in Šukioniai village of the Kėdainiai district. Father Jonas Kazakauskas (1905–1980) was a tailor. Mother Pranutė Kazakauskienė (1911–1968) raised their children ant took care of the household, but she had graduated from the Ramygala progymnasium. Her father, Antanas’ grandfather Motiejus Kinderis had been a book smuggler. Antanas had an older sister Danutė, married name Sinušienė (1935–1999). Attended elementary school in Truskava. His personal archive contains a photograph of the Truskava wooden church (burned in 1944). Fleeing from the threat of exile to Siberia, his parents left their homestead overnight and moved to Kaunas. Antanas finished the elementary school in Kaunas, entered the Kaunas Secondary Art School, and graduated in 1954. In 1955 entered the Department of Graphic Art at the LSSR State Art Institute

The first advertising graphic artist. In 1962 Kazakauskas graduated from the Graphic Art Department at the present-day Vilnius Academy of Arts, and became the first one to defend a final work in the field of advertising graphic design. After creating several compelling posters, among them the most famous Don’t Harm the Landscape (1966), he hardly worked in the field of advertising, because, as Rimantas Dichavičius aptly put it, he was a lone wolf. He chose to work with texts and images, designed book covers and the Mūsų Gamta (Our Nature) monthly magazine. During the period between 1965 and 1996 he worked as the art editor of the magazine.

Creative self-isolation. While creating modern graphic series during the Soviet era, Kazakauskas followed certain self-isolation principles in order to distance himself from the ideologised world of official art. He never had a single personal exhibition and took part only in several group ones, therefore his obscurity can also be considered “programmed”.

Kazakauskas’ codes and methods. His creative methods were collage and appropriation. Kazakauskas’ style is recognizable from constructivist features, codes that were close to pop-art, various quotes and details. Most often, these were photo collages and recurrent motifs – numbers, arrows, exclamation marks, question marks, quote marks, also clocks, crowns, hats, angels, and feathers, that had traveled from books to magazines and graphic sheets.

Kazakauskuitis – this name with a rare suffix -uitis was one of Kazakauskas’ pseudonyms. He often used it for signing his humorous sketches and cartoons in the 1960s and 1970s. Friends also called him Zurza. Both in his creative work and in his interactions, he was quite fearless and often spoke more boldly than others, although he also knew how to turn his blurting into jokes or anecdotes. He was intentionally skittish when designing his New Year’s postcards and even when writing his official creative autobiography which he ended with the phrase “I don’t remember anything else”.

Karolina Jakaitė

Exhibition was shown at the Vilnius Graphic Art Centre’s gallery Kairė-dešinė on September 30 – November 13, 2021 (graphic.lt) 

Curators: Julijus Balčikonis, Karolina Jakaitė

Exhibition architecture: Julijus Balčikonis

Graphic design: Tadas Karpavičius

Exhibition design objects: Julijus Balčikonis, Marija Repšytė, Paulius Vitkauskas 

Creative Hours dedicated to A. Kazakauskas: Sigutė Chlebinskaitė

Project coordinator: Jurga Minčinauskienė

Documentation and cataloging of works: Evelina Atminytė, Karolis Milaševičius, Goda Šuminaitė

Lithuanian text editor: Audra Kairienė

English translations: Laima Bezginaitė, Jurijus Dobriakovas

Financed by: Lithuanian Council for Culture, Vilnius Municipality, Family of Antanas Kazakauskas

Media sponsor: „7 meno dienos“

Partners: Design Foundation, Design Forum, Ekspobalta, Knygų šalis, Lithuanian Artists’ Association, Lithuanian National Museum of Art National Gallery of Art, Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania, Publishing house LAPAS, SODAS2123, Vilnius Academy of Arts

Special thanks to: Žygimantas Augustinas, Eglė Ganda Bogdanienė, Rimantas Dichavičius, Rūta Eglinskienė, Juozas Galkus, Eglė Indriūnaitė, Giedrė Jankevičiūtė, Monika Krikštopaitytė, Skirmantė Kvietkauskienė, Bronius Leonavičius, Jolita Liškevičienė, Dainius Liškevičius, Ieva Mazūraitė-Novickienė, Šarūnas Nakas, Ernestas Parulskis, Laimutė Puodžiūnaitė, Petras Repšys, Maratas Tairovas, Vida Valeckaitė, Saulius Valius