One Place – Two Worlds

Elena Balsiukaitė-Brazdžiūnienė and Aušra Vaitkūnienė


Exhibition Dates: 5-25 March 2020
Private View: Wednesday, 4 March, 6.30-9pm

Unit 1 Gallery | Workshop is proud to present One Place — Two Worlds, its second collaboration with Meno Parkas Galerija, esteemed Lithuanian gallery and based in Kaunas for over 25 years: the exhibition of two celebrated and respected female artists Aušra Vaitkūnienė and Elena Balsiukaitė-Brazdžiūnienė.

Aušra Vaitk
ūnienė and Elena Balsiukaitė-Brazdžiūnienė are both the same generation expressionist painters and were part of the influential and important experimental female painter group “Four” at the beginning of the Independence of Lithuania (1990-2001). One could say they grew and developed side by side — both as painters and people. Rather than basing the exhibition on a particular philosophical derivation or concept, One Place — Two Worlds wishes to portray these two parallel lives.

One Place: Both painters graduated from Vilnius Academy of Arts, live and work in Kaunas and have their studio in the same building. Both of them teach: Aušra is the head of Painting at Vilnius Academy of Arts, Kaunas Faculty, Elena is teaching at Kaunas Antanas Martinaitis Art School. And lastly the artists have been engaged in many joint projects and exhibitions in association with Meno Parkas Galerija.

Two Worlds: Both artists inhabit their own separate creative spaces, have different ways of thinking, favourite subject matters and styles. Despite their common physical ground, their psychological territories investigated through painting practices result in depicting entirely different worlds.

Aušra Vaitkūnienė‘s paintings are full of secrets — most of them are derived from the nature or everyday items. She researches intangible qualities of nature — light and dark, atmosphere and barely visible signs sent by nature. In her works nature and magic are in dialogue and the spirits reveal secrets that only the artist can see, that would be otherwise ungraspable. The language of painting allows Aušra to become a kind of medium — painted reality reveals the secret knowledge of the world but also exposes the artist’s soul. The artist admits that the core of her creation is the mystic, magic, the search of unexplainable, even shamanic practices, rather than the pursuit of an artistic style, tradition or fashion. The paintings exist not for their own sake, but rather as a trace of the magic ritual performed by her. Experiencing Aušra’s paintings attunes us to a parallel world of which one senses to be near, but can not reach.

…for most of the last decade the world of Aušra Vaitkūnienė could be described as uncertain, subconscious visions and distressing desire to create sense of “pulling in” with the colour.“ (PhD. Rasa Andriušytė, Art Critic)

Elena Balsiukaitė-Brazdžiūnienė has her own approach of world-making. Her ideas come to life when painting on canvas, paper or old photography. Her materials are far beyond those of traditional oil or acrylic painting, incorporating sand, flower petals, collages from personal belongings or other materials one would not expect. Elena is unafraid of experimenting with materials and techniques to create her worlds. Her work is often pastose and colouristic. The subject matter varies from everyday stories to portraits – with an approach not unlike a modern day ethnologist or anthropologist. Elena’s works show the artist’s engagement in daily life, its stories and events. The works is focusing upon people that are ordinarily unnoticed, often forgotten and seemingly unimportant to the typical social habit. Elena does not forget these people, she goes deep enough to see it all. Her paintings “King is Laughing” or “Street Angel”, or “Bird” successfully diminish distance and alienation with the  viewer and the “other“. The spectator experiences her warm, serene and sincere gaze.

She is constantly seeking a common thread between disparate things. It is the conscious position of the artist to stay open to everything that is happening around her. Rephrasing old anew, visualising meanings of difficult codes, Elena is emphasising her social commitment in art forms. She is interested in the city and problems of society(PhD. Kristina Budrytė-Genevičė)

…I am inspired by edgy, borderline situations in life. A very strong aspect of my creation is the possibility to control and affect these situations. At the same time, I change myself; I identify myself as my personages(Elena Balsiukaitė-Brazdžiūnienė)

Elena Balsiukaitė-Brazdžiūnienė (b. 1958, LIT) is one of the most prominent representatives of Lithuanian expressive painting, awarded numerous grants and awards from the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania. She has held over thirty personal exhibitions so far and actively participates in group exhibitions in Lithuania and abroad. Her artworks are in various collections like the M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum (Kaunas, Lithuania), the Mo Museum (Vilnius) as well as private collections in Lithuania, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Germany.

Aušra Vaitkūnienė (b. 1962, LIT) is an artist, pedagogue and curator and Head of Painting at Vilnius Academy of Arts, Kaunas Faculty. She has been awarded a number of grants and awards in Lithuania, as well as the Pollock-Krasner Foundation stipend for implementation of creative plans and creation (New York, USA) in 2013. She actively participates in projects and exhibitions worldwide, including Chicago, Berlin, Hamburg and Budapest. Selected exhibitions include: “Resonance” a satellite exhibition of the Biennale de Lyon, FR in 2012, Biennale Europienne d’Art Contemporain in Nimes, FR in 2013, NordArt2013, Kunstwerk Carlshütte, Büdelsdorf, DE in 2013 and “Behind the White Curtain” (by D. Mikšys) for the Lithuanian Pavilion at the 54th Biennale Di Venezia, Venice, IT in 2011.