The exhibition "The Passenger on the Move". In memory of Justinas Mikutis (1922–1988)"

The exhibition "The Passenger on the Move". In memory of Justinas Mikutis (1922–1988)".

This exhibition is a story about Justinas Mikutis, a symbol of civil disobedience in Soviet Lithuania. For his profound insights, he was called and still is remembered as a philosopher, a thinker, even a prophet. In an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty, many artists admired the freedom of his thought. His erudition contrasted with the primitiveness of official ideology. Socially, he was a marginal whose life was not in line with normal way of being, he did not care about comfort, instead, he himself was uncomfortable for others. After a decade‘s imprisonment in a Siberian camp, he returned crippled, was deeply affected by the traumatic experience, but his posture radiated the courage of a man who had no fair of the system, there was nothing to lose.

The title of the exhibition is a quotation from the poet Vytautas Mačernis' poem Miražai (Mirages), 1937. "A Passenger on the move" is a fitting description of Justinas' constant state of mind: he was always on the move – frequenting his friends‘ homes, staying in artists' workshops, visiting his relatives, accompanying artists during their gatherings in Samogitia.

The story begins in Christian Samogitia and describes places that attracted artists and outsiders during the Soviet era.  Their travel experiences are revealed through folk art objects and professional works from Beržoras, Gintališkės, Notėnai – places in Samogitia that have retained their ethnographic identity and are therefore of great importance to artists. In the 1970s and 1980s, the homestead of artists Barbora and Vladas Didžiokas in Dovainonys near Rumšiškės became an attraction for young artists seeking seclusion. The atmosphere of this place, objects, meetings, moods have been captured in photographs and paintings. 

The part Trajectories of Freedom presents works dating back to the 1950s until the present day. These are portraits and dedications created by artists who resisted the official rules of Soviet art. Mikutis' influence on artists' values is even more pronounced in works created after the fall of the empire and in the years of the restored independence.

Another group of works illustrate the time when Justinas was posing at the Vilnius Institute of Art (now VAA). Mikutis valued the communion of students, calling them "perhaps the only rays of light in his foggy and frustrated life".

One of the more important memorabilia on display is Mikutis' criminal file from the Lithuanian Special Archive. It is likely to embody the feelings of many people who have endured the trials of repression. The exhibition is complemented by Mikutis' thoughts from his manuscripts and letters, also poetic metaphors by other authors (Vytautas Mačernis, Leonardas Gutauskas, Sigitas Geda) used in the titles of the paragraphs.

Our special thanks are dedicated to Jurgita Mikutytė for the opportunity to use valuable material from the family archive, and to Vaidotas Žukas for his memories and sincere cooperation.  We thank all the artists and their relatives who have loaned or given permission to exhibit their works.  

Genovaitė Bartulienė
Inesa Kuliavaitė-Čepaitienė

Rasa Žukienė
Daina Kamarauskienė

Sigita Kundrotaitė Savickė

Gita Balžekaitė

Organizer of the exhibition
M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art

The exhibition has been partially financed
Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania

Partners and friends
The Lithuanian National Museum of Art
Museum of Vilnius Academy of Arts
MO Museum
The Lithuanian Special Archives
The Lithuanian Archive of Literature and Art
Vilnius University Library
The Samogitian Museum “Alka“
The Lithuanian Art Centre TARTLE
The Lithuanian National Radio and Television
Telšiai Diocese, Notėnai St Catherine's Church
Kaunas Modern Art Foundation
The Gallery “Aukso pjūvis“
The museum-studio of Leonas Strioga
Jeruzalem sculpture garden. Vladas Vildžiunas gallery
Samogitia National Park

Private persons / collectors 
Aušra Barzdukaitė-Vaitkūnienė, Ramutis Petniūnas,  Romanas ir Violeta Raulynaičiai, Antanas Stancevičius, Vaidotas Žukas

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