LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 26, No. 4 - Winter 1980
Editor of this issue: Jonas Zdanys
Copyright © 1980 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
The small voice of freedom burns brightly as one of the surprises in the unique and unusual exhibits of bookplates entitled "Ex Libris", displayed at Galerija, 744 N. Wells Chicago, Illinois. Thirty four Lithuanian artists are represented with an astounding variety of print techniques and concepts dating from ancient to contemporary. Bookplates by tradition, dating from the time of early Egyptians represent the ideals of a book collector together with ideas of the artist. This exhibition is outstanding because the bookplates shown exemplify both of these attitudes and in addition seem to give the viewer a voice to be heard from behind the iron curtain, hinting at personal expression of the human mind and body, that is eternal. Any exhibition of art today from Soviet dominated countries would pique interest in the world outside the iron curtain, because one would anxiously search for examples that tell one that personal integrity and artistic freedom still burn strongly even if suppressed. Amazingly, these aspects come through clearly in these art miniatures that range from a tiny 2" x 4" to a 6" x 8" plate.
Sophistication in the real sense towards art forms with the nude figure, classical drama, ancient literature, popular folklore, and contemporary images make this exhibition one of truly art international.
Techniques such as the finest etching, exquisite woodcuts, highly detailed blockprints, ingenious colorations, along with advanced photomontage and collage boggle the mind with their skill and inventiveness. Anyone wishing to collect "modern art" or miniatures, or contemporary prints would do well to examine and begin the possibilities for a special collection that this field now presents.
The collection organized by Gintautas Vėžys* of Chicago, has been assembled from his extensive collection of bookplates numbering in the thousands. His loyalty for his homeland, his concern for art and good taste together with his commitment to constantly encourage Lithuanian artists have produced these bookplates which represent so much more than their beginning task of identifying a book's owner.
One Lithuanian artist, Antanas Kmieliauskas, relies to a great extent on classical European art of the past (such as Michaelangelo, etc.) to make his bookplates rich with tradition, elegant with subtle colorations, and impressive with intricate depth of paper surface.
Parisian, Žibuntas Mikšys, utilizes purity of line, ranging from the sensuality of a nude or the movement of a gesture, in his bookplates of international style.
Native folklore is utilized in both old and new ways for designs in the bookplates by Antanas Tamošaitis, of Canada, Juozas Sodaitis, of New York, and Algirdas Kurauskas, of Chicago. Another Chicagoan, Henrietta Vepštienė, cleverly combines photographs of the book owner together with meaningful representations of the owners interests and personality.
The humorous concepts such as a cello becoming a female figure, express some of the ribald and amusing attitudes that Lithuanian citizen Valerijonas Jucys captures in his many lighthearted bookplates which are expressions about life and love.
Surrealistic ideas in the provocative bookplates by Petras Repšys of Lithuania present thought provoking art. The classical line treatment in art is given an amusing twist (such as cherubs wearing shoes) in the fine art bookplates by this same artist, whose work was selected for the exhibition announcement.
The majority of these talented artists in the exhibition are featured in the impressive book LITHUANIAN BOOKPLATES by Vitolis E. Vengris recently published (Loyola University Press 1980, $20.00) and presented for the first time at the opening of this exhibition.
Galerija Art Gallery can be justly proud of this outstanding exhibition which presented exquisite fine art with added appeal of ancient folklore together with an emotional message from behind the iron curtain. Both the gallery and the devoted collector are to be highly commended for this assemblage which should travel for all to see throughout the free world.
Valerijonas Jucys, linoleum block
Algirdas Kurauskas wood engraving
Vytautas O. Virkau mixed technique
Rimtas Tarabilda, mixed technique, two colors
Edmundas Stasiulis lithography
Irena Daukšaitė-Katinienė etching
Elvyra Kriaučiūnaitė-Gylienė etching
Žibuntas Mikšys etching
Vytautas Kalinauskas wood engraving
Henrieta Vepštienė, mixed technique
Stasys Eidrigevičius, etching aquatint
Viktoras Petravičius, wood engraving.
Vladas Žilius, etching.
* GINTAUTAS VĖŽYS was born in 1926, in Kaunas, Lithuania. Settled down in Chicago in 1949; graduated from IIT in 1956 with BSME. Has worked with various companies as an engineer. Since 1965 Gintautas Vėžys is the president of Algimantas Mackus Book Publishing Foundation. Ex libris collector for 10 years. His Lithuanian bookplate collection was exhibited eight times at various universities, public libraries and galleries.