Exhibition of Vilnius-based artists "The Iron Wolf / Le Loup de Fer" in Paris
On March 9th at 6.30 pm in Paris, the opening of the exhibition "The Iron Wolf / Le Loup de Fer" will take place at the Espace Commines (17 rue Commines, 75003 Paris). The Lewben Art Foundation is a partner and one of the sponsors of this exhibition. Additionally, the foundation has loaned three paintings by Patricija Jurkšaitytė from its collection for the exhibition.
In all parts of the world, we can find the common ancient belief that a human being can turn or be turned into an animal, usually the most respected one in that area. For the West Indo-European cultures, such an animal is known to be a wolf. In the 5th century BCE, when talking about the Neuri tribe (part of the ancient Baltic tribe), Herodotus mentions that they were all magicians who would transform themselves into werewolves for a few days each year. In fact, the belief that, on a certain day of the year, people can turn into werewolves, has survived in the Baltic region up until the 19th century. This belief is a relic of Europe’s shamanic past. It was thanks to the isolatedness of our land (Lithuania was the last European country to be christened) that this past was able to survive for as long as it did.
Those familiar with the history of the region will find it unsurprising that a wolf has always been and remains until this day such a powerful symbol for the Lithuanian nation. The Legend of the Iron Wolf – a medieval legend about the founding of Vilnius – is among the most striking examples of the genre. According to the legend, Grand Duke Gediminas (ca. 1275-1341) was hunting in the beautiful sacred forest in the area where Vilnius currently lies. Tired after a successful hunt, he fell asleep and dreamed of a huge Iron Wolf howling on the top a hill. In the morning, the Grand Duke’s krivis (pagan priest) Lizdeika interpreted the dream as a sign that Gediminas is destined to found a city on a hill, the glory of which will spread wide and far. Then, at the confluence of two rivers, a mound was raised and the castle built.
The ethnologists now regard Vilnius as a jewel of Lithuanian culture. Vilnius is among the most beautiful culture-rich cities of Europe. The city started taking its shape during the Middle Ages, and is a heritage site for many different architectural styles. According to one of the legends, when Napoleon saw the Church of St Anne in Vilnius, as he and his army were returning home from the Franco-Russian war, he got so enchanted with the Church, that he expressed a wish to take it ‘on a palm of his hand’ and carry it with him back to France. In Vilnius, one can encounter authentic examples of multiple architectural periods: Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Classicsm, and Modernism. Sometimes Vilnius is also called ‘the Baroque city’ as a reference to the respective stylistic changes in the architectural face of the city around the 17-18th centuries. Artists from all over the world have always been and still are coming to Vilnius for inspiration, for Vilnius is also a place for creative, friendly, and open-hearted people. The show is therefore a humble gift for this distinguished city as it is marking its septuacentennial anniversary.
The image of a howling wolf can be seen as an inspiring metaphor. Wolf is a symbol of care, ritualism, and spirituality. A wolf trusts its instincts and creates strong emotional bonds with them. A wolf symbolises faithfulness, family, friendship, teamwork, security, ferity, freedom, and playfulness. As a powerful spiritual animal, wolf expresses the ability to go through life with utmost certainty. This is also a particularly fitting image for the artists presented in the show “Iron Wolf”: strong in character, persistent in the realisation of their ideas and creative visions, and spreading the word about their homeland wide and far.
Although the artists use different media and styles, belong to different age groups, and vary in their experience, they are nonetheless united under the metaphorical howl of an Iron Wolf. Too eclectic? It is and that is precisely the goal of the entire show: introduce the city of Vilnius as a multicultural field open to everyone. In it, the artists, despite of their differences, are lead by their spiritual bonds of creativity and fraternity. They complement each other’s stories and comprise a remarkable constellation.
The exhibition presents artists of various fields and age groups who live and create in Vilnius: Audra Vaupšienė (sculpture and video), Andrius Zakarauskas (painting), Vytenis Lingys (painting), Mykolas Sauka (sculpture), Imantas Selenis (photography), Meda Norbutaitė (painting), Eglė Kuckaitė (graphics), Patricija Jurkšaitytė (painting), Linas Jusionis (painting), Antanas Sutkus (photography), Vilmantas Marcinkevičius (painting), Inga Galinytė (performance), Nerijus Erminas (sculpture), Berta Tilmantaitė, Neringa Rekašiūtė, Rūta Meilutytė, Aurelija Striužė (Video piece - artistic performance "Swimming Through"), Tadao Cern (photography).
Curator – Julija Palmeirao
Organisers: Edvidas Žukas / "Menų tiltas" and Julija Palmeirao / "Šiuolaikiniai meno projektai"
Partners: Lewben Art Foundation, the Embassy of Lithuania in Paris
Venue – Espace Commines / 17 rue Commines, 75003 Paris
Exhibition will run: 9/3/23 - 20/3/23