LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 23, No.3 - Fall 1977
Editor of this issue: Saulius Kuprys
Copyright © 1977 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
THE ART OF PETRAS ALEKSA
Petras Aleksa, born in Lithuania in 1926, came to Chicago in 1950. He graduated from the Institute of Design of the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1957. He continued his studies at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Petras Aleksa participated in the annual shows of the "Dailë" artists group, a three-man show at the "69" art gallery in Chicago, and a two-man show at the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture.
He was awarded first prize for his sculpture "Conscience" in a group show at the Čiurlionis Art Gallery and received honorable mentions for his other work. His sculpture "Resurrection" rises above the main altar in the Lithuanian Jesuit Chapel in Chicago. Many of his works are owned by private collectors in the United States and abroad. He has been the director of the M.K. Čiurlionis Art Gallery in Chicago.
Sculptor Petras Aleksa is one of those artists who does not follow prevalent style and fashion but concentrates his creativity in the expression of an idea. As a result, he does not limit himself in the use of specific media, employing a variety of forms and materials in his works. Thus, the selection of forms and materials also becomes an integral element in his work.
In his sculpture, "Opinion," Aleksa uses two tones of wood to express his idea. To communicate his message, he contrasts the tones to create the concept of an opinion penetrating into the truth of reality. "The First Ones" is a sculpture consisting of two abstracted organic forms that give the impression of a beginning and a developing. A mixed-media work, "Ripe" is a semi-abstract, rounded form reminiscent of a pregnant woman. One of his most recent works, "Composition Opposition," employs acrylic-painted cardboard to achieve a dynamic sculpture delicately balancing powerfully concentrated forces.
Some of Aleksa's works are in the category of satirical humor. One of these is "Leader," a quadruped with a porcine tail for a head, waving a pennant. Another is an aluminum sculpture, "Politician." Here, a square-cornered human form with raised hands is constantly giving a speech, or "conjuring" applause, or giving his constituency whatever promises they want.
One of sculptor Aleksa's important and serious works is in the Jesuit chapel in Chicago. It is entitled "Resurrection." Consisting of an impressive head of Christ with an equally large hand on His right side, it holds a double message, which the calm, inscrutable face enhances in each interpretation. At one time, the hand appears to be raised in benign blessing, and yet at the same time it metes out justice.
Unlike painting, sculpture is a three-dimensional art. As such it is more accessible to the viewer, affording him a more intimate experience of the work. Its textural component frequently tempts the viewer to experience it by touching it. Touching Aleksa's work will reveal that some sculptures are smooth, some rough, some warm, some cold, depending on the media he has chosen and on how he has decided to finish it.
Sculptor Aleksa gives his works simple and direct titles. There is no mystery as to what he wants to express—the title says it. He describes this in his own words: "I take a simple aspect of this complicated world and show the idea in a relatively simple form."
For some unknown reason, in the art world, sculptors are the least numerous. This also holds true for Lithuanian artists. Petras Aleksa is one of those few Lithuanian sculptors now working as a free-lance sculptor and designer.
The Leader (Mixed media)
The first Ones (Aluminum)
Composition Opposition (Acrylic on cardboard)