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Birutė Žilytė

Birutė Žilytė. 'Lucid Dark'

The exhibition "Lucid Dark" presents the most prominent works of the artist Birutė Žilytė. According to the exhibition's curator Regina Urbonienė, "these are associative, metaphorical, highly forceful works (examples of murals, bookplates, book illustrations) that have been created through the author's lengthy creative career, which has lasted over five decades".

Birutė Žilytė was born on June 2, 1930 in Nainiškiai (Panevėžys district). In 1956 she completed her studies of graphic art at the State Art Institute of Lithuania. She has been participating in art exhibitions since 1957, and has been a member of the Lithuanian Artists' Union since 1961. In 1963-1987 Žilytė taught at the National M. K. Čiurlionis School of Art in Vilnius. She has worked as an illustrator for the children's magazine Genys (Woodpecker) for a long time. In 1997 Birutė Žilytė was awarded the Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas of the 5th class.

The exhibition "Lucid Dark" is the first large-scale overview of Birutė Žilytė's work. "I play the emergence of the world," - writes the artist in her preface to the exhibition. In her works, she focuses on "the miracles of memory, the reminiscences of childhood, where the limits of time are blurred and the world of one's early years comes back to life".

Birutė Žilytė's artistic experience is closely related to children's literature: she illustrated more than ten books, which have been reissued more than once. She also won her most important awards in this sphere: in 1969 the artist received the Golden Apple award of the Bratislava International Biennial of Children's Books' Illustrations for her illustrations of Jānis Rainis' book The Golden Sieve; in 1971 she was awarded the Republican Prize for her illustrations of Aldona Liobytė's books The Runaway Song (1966) and A Fairy Tale About the Brave Girl from Vilnius and Greenbeard the Killer (1970). The latter earned Žilytė the Gold Medal of the Leipzig International Book Fair in 1971.

The artist's modern, stylish graphic work shaped the innovative image of Lithuanian graphic art of the 1960s-1970s, and was met with acclaim not only in Lithuania, but also abroad (her well-known bookplate series The Land of Anykščiai (1961), Vilnius (1966), Žalgiris (1970, 1st Prize of the Tallinn Triennial of Graphic Art in 1971), Plants (1973-1974), and so on).

Together with her husband Algirdas Steponavičius, Birutė Žilytė painted a number of murals for the Nykštukas children's café in Vilnius (1964) and the children's sanatorium Pušelė in Valkininkai (1969-1972). The artist has taken part in nearly 100 exhibitions in Lithuania and abroad.

Exhibition curated by Regina Urbonienė