LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Copyright © 2007 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
Volume 53, No 2 - Summer 2007
Editor of this issue: Violeta Kelertas
Kestutis Zapkus in his New York studio, 2006
Forty-five years ago, Franz Schulze, art editor of the Chicago Daily News, wrote the first review of the works of Kestutis Zapkus (also known in the New York art world as Kes Zapkus), which was published in Lituanus [vol. VIII, number 4, 1962]. This gave the 24-year-old newly graduated student his first opportunity to be introduced to the Chicago art milieu.
After graduating from Chicago’s Art Institute in 1960, he attended Syracuse University, and received an M.F.A. degree in 1962. The same year, just before leaving for Europe, he had two memorable exhibits in Chicago. From 1962 to 1965, he lived in Paris. Since then he has lived and worked in New York. He has taught at Princeton University, Parson’s School of Design, The Cooper Union School of Art, and The Graduate School of the University of Pennsylvania. He has had more than 12 one-man shows and many group exhibitions around the world [France, Mexico, Cuba, Lithuania, Hungary, etc.]. Kestutis Zapkus in his New York studio, 2006 40 We gain a clearer understanding from notes on the work from the artist himself. For this reason, each of his paintings reproduced in this issue of Lituanus has a verbal entry to assist the viewer with issues of content of particular paintings.
Zapkus is indeed a difficult artist; he has built a complicated artistic expression for the complex world we live in. His tendency is towards the epic and the monumental. Sometimes he works on his immense canvases over a period of several years. Each part of his canvas is a picture in itself, and you have not one, but a hundred or more small images, each of which is delightful to peruse through the multi-layered events of the larger canvas. In the newly independent Lithuania, during his teaching at the Vilnius Academy of Art in 1992, Zapkus enthusiastically tried to prepare his students for art in the free world. Soviet censorship had deprived even art students of vital information for modernist creative thinking. (See image #2 “Byzantium Furioso”) Symbolically, he donated his important series of works entitled “Children of War” (1981-1984) to the Lithuanian Art Museum in Vilnius. A number of his former students found their way here and are functioning as artists in New York.
Now, forty-five years later, Lituanus is proud to re-introduce Zapkus with color reproductions to encompass 12 years of work, between 1991 and 2002.[See the artist's works in "Notes on my paintings".]