Exhibition dedicated to the art of the Baltic symbolism opened in Vilnius


2020 07 24

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The Minister of Culture Mindaugas Kvietkauskas together with the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Latvia Nauris Puntulis and the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Estonia Tõnis Lukas participated in the opening of exhibition “Wild Souls. Symbolism in the Baltic States” held at the National Gallery of Art. This exhibition features works by 36 of the most prominent Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian artists, created in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A total of 126 paintings, graphics and sculptures as well as rare period publications are presented.

“This exhibition has been described in the French press as an example of top cultural diplomacy. I think it’s no coincidence because it reveals a local art tradition that has a cosmic level. The symbolism of the Baltic States coincided with the time when the Baltic States developed their ideas of national revival, statehood as well as modern art and individual identity. Therefore, this exhibition of the Baltic symbolism can also be called an expression of cultural mentality. It is surprising that such our presentation to the world received great attention, great appreciation that we are seen in the world as an extremely interesting, unique cultural space”, said Minister Kvietkauskas at the opening of the exhibition.

The symbolism born in France acquired distinctive features in different countries. The symbolism of the Baltic States is distinguished by its connections with the ideas of national romanticism. Baltic artists from Western Europe took over the concept of creative freedom and the belief in the power of art to express the spiritual depths of man. Borrowing motifs from folklore, legends, mythology, painting the homeland landscapes that witnessed the transformations of nature, the artists created an alternative symbolic reality that often carried a political burden.

The exhibition was curated by the famous symbolist researcher Rodolphe Rapetti. It was first exhibited in 2018 at the Orsay Museum in Paris, commemorating the centenary of Baltic independence. In France, it was visited by over 230 thousand people. In the same year, the exhibition was moved to the KUMU Museum in Tallinn.

Five museums (Lithuanian National Museum of Art, M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum, Latvian National Museum of Art, Art Museum of Estonia, Orsay Museum and Museum of Orange) and the Ministries of Culture of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and France cooperated in organising the exhibition.

The exhibition will be opened until October 11. After that, the works of Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian artists will be exhibited at the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga.