MAY 4 – JUNE 14, 2018
OPENING RECEPTION: FRIDAY, MAY 4, 6-9 PM
GALLERY HOURS: Thursday – Saturday, 12-6pm
CLOSED: MAY 18, 19, 20. JUNE 3
The National Portrait Gallery is a series of twelve young women’s portraits. The title of the exhibition has undisguised links with the London National Portrait Gallery, which hosts exhibition of portraits of famous and historically important personalities in the country. Even though the women who were modeling for me are also quite successful in their professional activities, this has not been reflected in my portrait gallery. I have replaced both the idea of the National Gallery and the standard criteria for a portrait as a genre with my own ones. The identity of these women, their prominence and importance have been hidden. By painting each one of them, I rejected all the tasks that the artist usually sets out for himself or herself in creating a portrait: revealing the person’s soul, character, emotion, perhaps values, and so on. As my professor of painting Kęstutis Zapkus once said, Rembrandt’s portraits still speak to us today, even though they have been around for as long as several hundred years. Meanwhile, my goal here was to create the opposite illusion: the women who look at you from my pictures as if do not see the viewer, it’s as if (s)he remains absent.
In implementing these ideas, the painting process itself was substantial. For this purpose, I have constructed a modeling structure with a mirrored partition that separates the posing person from me. The model only saw her own reflection in the mirror, while I was painting from the other side of the mirror, taking looks at the woman who was watching herself in the mirror. The portraits of the series are united by this general inaccessibility atmosphere, as well as character type, which is quite close to the stereotypical image of the Lithuanian woman (for example, to Lithuanian Girl with Palm Sunday Fronds, the portrait of a young girl that Kanutas Ruseckas painted in the 19th century, which became a symbol of Lithuanian romanticism). Being conceptually identical, the images only differ from each other in the details of the anatomy of the models: the subject of my painting is not a person, but general phenomena, such as emptiness, deficiency, absence of relations, stereotypes, and manifestations of nationalism, which again have grown more visible in the world.
Patricija Jurkšaitytė (born 1968 in Vilnius) graduated from painting studies at the Vilnius Academy of Arts in 1993, where she was student at the course taught by artist Kęstutis Zapkus. Since 1992, her works have been presented in group and personal exhibitions in Lithuania, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Turkey. Among the very latest solo exhibitions by Jurkšaitytė are National Gallery of Portraits at Contemporary Art Center (2017) and Dutch Stories at gallery “Vartai” (2013), both of which are located in Vilnius, capital city of Lithuania. The works of Patricija Jurkšaitytė are kept in private collections in Lithuania and other countries.
Image: From the series National Portrait Gallery, 2015-2017. Oil on canvas, 53 cm X 77cm (21” X 30”). Photo: Vidmantas Ilčiukas
Sla307 is an artist run Art Space which provides local and international contemporary artists a forum to explore critical issues within art and culture in New York City. Sla307 Art Space was stablished in 2014 as the art program for the Lithuanian Alliance of America (LAA) after wanting to renew its activities as a non-profit institution. LAA is the oldest living Lithuanian organization, established in Pennsylvania in 1886. In 1910 LAA moved it’s headquarters to New York City, and remains in the Chelsea district since then.