Lewben Art Foundation brings young artistic gems from Lithuania

Installation view of "Lewben Art Foundation Collection" exhibition at Art Corner H / Courtesy of Sun Blanket Foundation

By Kwon Mee-yoo

Ugne Buzinskaite, director of the Lewben Art Foundation / Courtesy of Lewben Art Foundation
Though little known in Korea, the northeastern European country of Lithuania has a vibrant art scene that came to attention when the country's pavilion won the Golden Lion for "Sun & Sea (Marina)" in 2019.

The Baltic State has, even more, to offer in addition to the award-winning opera performed at an indoor beach installation and the Lewben Art Foundation, the sponsor of the Lithuanian pavilion in the Venice Biennale, brings parts of its collection, which centers on young talent, to Korea.

The Lewben Art Foundation joined hands with the Sun Blanket Foundation of Korea to showcase talented artists from Lithuania and Latvia through a special exhibition at Art Corner H, a gallery operated by the Sun Blanket Foundation.

The Lewben Art Foundation was founded by Lithuanian entrepreneur Vilius Kavaliauskas and his wife Rita to collect and exhibit works of Lithuanian artists in 2013. Now the foundation's collection has expanded to include international artists and hosts the annual Young Painter Prize, fostering aspiring artists of the Baltic region.

Ugne Buzinskaite, director of the Lewben Art Foundation, said "Sun & Sea (Marina)" winning the Golden Lion brought much attention to the art scene of Lithuania.

"(People) are interested in the Baltic art scene and its potential. It's really nice to (receive attention) because we are a small country. It's nice to be noticed," Buzinskaite told The Korea Times.

Buzinskaite said this exhibition shows how this young generation of artists shapes the art scene in the Baltic region.

"We want to show the scene of the younger generation of the Baltic region and how it is generated. The artists are young, but they are already established in the Baltic region," she said.

Vita Opolskyte's 'Passing by, he said: I have no idea what is going on here' (2019) / Courtesy of Lewben Art Foundation

Buzinskaite collaborated with Choi Tae-ho, art director of the Sun Blanket Foundation, to select works to be showcased in Korea.

The artworks on display range from paintings to photography and light sculpture.

"Currently, important processes of contemporary art are taking place in Baltic countries. The new generation of artists is moving from the local perception of art to more modern, universal themes," Choi explained.

According to Buzinskaite, Jolanta Kyzikaite is one of the earliest winners of the Young Painter Prize.

"We wanted to show this first step of the young artists and then how they moved on. This exhibition is a good reflection of what's going on in the younger generation," she said.

Monika Plentauskaite, the 2018 Young Painter Prize Winner, presents whimsical paintings based on her childhood memories, while Tomas Duksa's paintings and neon works of Bigfoot bring the viewers to engage with his works more earnestly.

Paulius Makauskas is the only photographer in the exhibition and his "New Seas" series portrays the issue of climate change in the photos of the Baltic Sea, captured in analog photography.

Other participating artists include Vita Opolskyte, Kristina Alisauskaite, Arnolds Anderson, Jegors Buimisters, Raminta Blazeviciute, Tadas Trucilauskas and Ieva Trinkunaite.

The two organizations plan to continue to cooperate bridging Asia and Europe through art.

"The Lewben Art Center is to open in Vilnius in 2023 and Korean artists will be introduced to Lithuania with cooperation by the Sun Blanket Foundation," Buzinskaite said.

Lithuania's Ministry of Culture as well as the Embassies of Lithuania and Latvia in Korea sponsor the exhibition.

Admission is free and the exhibition runs through Oct. 29.

Kwon Mee-yoo meeyoo@koreatimes.co.kr

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