The international contemporary art fair ArtVilnius’18 invited art enthusiasts to the jazz club Paviljonas on Wednesday to present its programme and latest news. The ninth edition of the fair is running between 7 and 10 June at the Lithuanian exhibition and congress centre Litexpo.
“0% Work and 100% Relax” was the welcoming slogan of ArtVilnius’18 team, inspired by the Estonian artists Marko Mäetamm. Yellow paper airplanes launched into the air communicated the invitation to relax with art. Marko is bringing to the fair his latest and never before exhibited project “Sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of your life”, a variation on the announcement familiar to all airline passengers. “Art always follows reality, so one must know how to relax and accept reality as it is,” the well-known Estonian artists said at the press conference.
ArtVilnius is still the biggest visual arts event in the entire region, a trendsetter for neighbouring countries. “During our intense preparations for ArtVilnius, we recently visited the art week in Kyiv and Tbilisi art fair. The organisers there admitted that ArtVilnius was their inspirer and teacher,” says Diana Stomienė, the director of ArtVilnius, adding that the event seeks not to just attract art lovers to see the latest trends in art, but also to encourage them to purchase artworks.
This year, ArtVilnius’18 brings 55 galleries and 250 artists from 20 countries (Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, Poland, Estonia, France, Denmark, Italy, Russia, the US and Ukraine among others). The fair’s special feature is Focus-Baltic, shining the light on Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, the three Baltic nations celebrating the centenary of their statehood this year. Six art galleries are hailing from Estonia: Foku, Haus, Okapi, Positiiv, Avangard, Kogo and the contemporary art platform Noar which is bringing a project by Edward von Lõngus, often dubbed the Banksy of Estonia. Four important galleries are representing Latvia’s art scene: Maksla XO, Agijas Sunas, Alma, Tifana.
Of the Lithuanian galleries, Meno Parkas, with its lineup of Kaunas artists, is one to look out for in particular, says the fair’s art director Sonata Baliuckaitė. “Many a gallery is including young artists in their displays, such as The Rooster Gallery, the VDA gallery Titanikas, Artifex. Contour and Meno Niša are also bringing very interesting selections. The Arka gallery’s offering includes the already classic images by the photographer Rimantas Dichavičius from his series ‘Blossoms Among Blossoms’,” says Ms Baliuckaitė. First-time participant at ArtVilnius is New York’s SLA307 art space, an important hub for expat Lithuanian artists and an essential part of the Focus-Baltic programme.
Alongside the galleries’ main displays, the fair is organising an expanded project zone featuring international art institutions and artists. Lewben Art Foundation, set up by the fair’s exclusive partner Lewben Group, is returning to ArtVilnius for the fifth time to present some of its collection in the show curated by Francesca Ferrarini, “Fairy Tales? Why Not”. “Fairy tales have been with us since childhood and modern tales contain the very same elements. Three outstanding artists are narrating fairy tales through their works: Vadim Fishkin, Andrea Crespo and Reza Aramesh,” according to Ugnė Bužinskaitė, Lewben Art Foundation’s exposition coordinator.
Krakow’s Museum of Contemporary Art MOCAK is returning to ArtVilnius for the third time with a strong offering of video art and an international programme of artists from Poland, Israel, Norway, Romania and Ukraine. One of them, Ukraine’s Nikita Shalennyi, started his partnership with MOCAK in Vilnius after it acquired his installation at ArtVilnius’15.
The annual exhibition of large-scale sculpture, installation and performance The Path is presenting 30 artists from nine countries. This year, The Path’s selection committee received applications from over 100 artists. One of them is Mindaugas Navakas, awarded the best artist prize at last year’s fair, who is presenting his 14-tonne sculpture “The Crawler”.
ArtVilnius’18 solo project zone is mostly featuring projects conceived specially for the event and exhibited for the first time. The artists include Svajonė Stanikienė and Paulius Stanikas, Gintaras Makarevičius, Jurga Barilaitė, Katrīna Čemme and Jurga Barilaitė. The Jonas Mekas Visual Arts Centre is bringing a world premiere of a work by George Maciunas.
Traditionally, ArtVilnius’18 will select the year’s best artists and galleries. The best young artist will be awarded a prize established by the fair’s Maecenas, Cobalt law firm. An educational programme, workshops, discussions and lectures about the art market and the Baltic art will offer something for visitors of all ages. On Friday, 8 June, ArtVilnius’18 is organising the second Night at the Gallery. Vilnius galleries will be welcoming art lovers until 11 PM.