Gasiūnas Jonas
g. 1954
Jonas Gasiūnas, is one of the major contemporary painters of his generation in Lithuania. He entered the art scene of the 1980s as a perpetuator of expressionist aspirations, but came to witness the crisis of the discipline of painting in the 1990s. Instead of withdrawing to periphery to tender the tradition, he opted to conceptualize the means of expression employed by painting. He perceives painting as open to other media. Alongside with painting, Gasiūnas has created installations (he is one of the pioneers of the medium in Lithuania) and objects and has tried his hand in video performances since 2002. The artist’s experience with camera has prompted him to borrow the motion-picture concept of a moving image and transfer it to the surface of canvas. Together with the technique of drawing in the flame and smoke of a burning candle developed by the painter since 2000, these have become his two major strategies he employed to conceptualize the language of painting. His art revisits and recollects political and social history, as well as contemporary developments. The collection of Jonas Gasiūnas’ most recent works, entitled “Don’t Trust Your Eyes – It Is Mere Smoke” displays both a serious relationship between painting and the trace of smoke of a burning candle – and some element of “flirting”. The drawing technique employed by the artist functions similarly to graffiti; he also manipulates recognizable images usually associated with repressive structures, a loudspeaker, a probe and a Russian military choir being examples. The traces of smoke covering the surface of his paintings in dots and broken lines resemble of mail markings and notations on archival files and other documents or fragments of protocols. The artist is not innocent of some irony towards history either. His images thrown together apparently in a haphazard manner (the Russian choir and a child with a baseball bat) seem to be governed by the same principle that guides the psychedelic lyrics of rock-’n’-roll and blues. In support of the thesis declaring history the servant of politics, the artist is suspicious about history: that is why he never stops rewriting it. He also seeks to ensure art’s active role in relation to reality. Thus the surface of a canvas functions for him like a screen of the artist’s sub-consciousness on which he projects his personal experience, details and facts from his life story, his dreams and fantasies. (By Milda Žvirblytė, art critic)