LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 28, No.3 - Fall 1982
Editor of this issue: Antanas Klimas
Copyright © 1982 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
THE CANVAS IS THE MESSAGE
Vanda Balukas is both a traditionalist and an innovator — and that in a double sense. The first sense is biographical. She began as a painter of conventional human figures, landscapes, and still-lifes articulated in the spirit of expressive symbolism that constitutes the Lithuanian tradition. Then, a little more than a decade ago, she invented what amounts to a new art form, and has been developing it ever since. Substituting patterned Lithuanian linen fabric (hand-crafted, if possible) for ordinary canvas, she superimposes on the distinctive pattern in the material an original design of her own, thereby achieving a fusion of old and new in a second, synchronic sense. The ornamentally patterned fabric, a staple of Lithuania's folk tradition, is the old; the painted-on design of color, shape, and movement is the new. What was intended to be a decorative yet functional object — tablecloth, bedspread, tablerunner—has emerged as a piece of high art.
Yet Balukas' high art does not endeavor to annihilate the craftsmanship embodied in the linen fabric. "My painterly concerns have always been composition/— a synthesis of color and movement within a figure," Balukas explains, "but now that figure is the pattern of the linen itself, whose color and movement I transform to animate the canvas." And what an animation it is! The artist's new-born colors and forms sing and pulse and vibrate in a rhythmic chromatic geometry that stands to the weaver's original even as a Bartok masterpiece stands to the folk song that evoked it.
Born in Điauliai and educated at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vilnius, the Ecole des Arts et Metiers in Freiburg, and the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago, Vanda Balukas has numerous exhibitions to her name. Her solo shows include the Lithuanian Cultural Center in New York and the Artists Signature Gallery in New Haven; she has also participated in juried exhibitions at Yale University's Berkeley College, New Haven's CUVA Art Gallery, and more than a dozen other art centers throughout the Midwest.
Her colleagues from LITUANUS are happy to present, for the first time in the journal's history, a spread on the work of its own art editor.
Acrylic on linen, 60" x 14".
"Mandala", acrylic on linen, 20" x 18".
Acrylic on linen, 15 1/2" x 11 1/2".
Acrylic on linen 74" x 49".
"Eternal Wheel", acrylic on linen, 50" x 50"
Acrylic on linen, 42 1/4 x 23 3/4.
Acrylic on linen, 40" x 21 1/2"
Acrylic on linen, 64" x 23 1/2"