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Viktoras Paukštelis "THE ORNITHOLOGIST‘S DREAM" (paintings)

March 3–31
Opening – March 3, 6 p.m.
In the exhibition, I am presenting a collection of paintings, whose main motif is the bird. I interpret its image in various ways. During creative process, I observe birds in different situations, modes and states. I do this as though by materialising into different observer positions: sometimes as if I were a bird-lover or an ornithologist, a collector, and other times, as if a I were a predator or a hunter lurking for prey. I seek to tune into various modes and possible perceptions of bird as well as to meditate on its different meanings. Thereby the motif for my painting can be a dead bird, a stuffed one, a bird hidden from a hunter, or a symbolic body contour-map of a bird.

What is important to me is not just the mere structure of the bird as a living organism. When I paint, I look for more than a direct and anatomically correct interpretation of image of a bird – a likeness. Rather, I am concerned with the mode which is evoked by the object of the painting. Consequently, the image of the bird functions as an abstract form – a medium for painting. In a sense, when I paint, I identify with the object being painted. By employing the creative dual-vision approach, I explore and search for identity. A symbolic parallel to my surname may be observed in the choice of the bird motif. I singularly ironize the self-portraiture and self-reflection by invoking the homonymous word play – Paukštelis-paukštis (‘paukštis’ is Lithuanian for ‘bird’).

I deliberately choose distinct painterly expression for each bird motif ranging from realistic to abstract and reduced, to a linear drawing. In such a way I seek to emphasise that each motif demands a distinct painterly representation. I also experiment with the consistence of the dye, I collage watercolour portions, sketches with pastose brushstrokes and completed details. This relates to the structure of the bird as a living organism, consisting of both the skeleton, muscles, internal organs and the light, flickering feathers. In my paintings, knowledge and recognition intersect. I refer here to knowledge as the wish to scientifically observe the structure, anatomy and shape of the bird. Whereas recognition is the desire to tune into and personify the object of the painting, to discover some self-mirroring detail.

In my creative work, I also meditate on the matter of originality. For example, when I paint a dead bird, I recognise that I cannot paint it in a purely authentic way, in a “true” way, because I know the way it has been already done by the “Dutch Golden Age” painters, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin or Michael Borremans. In a sense, my bird has already absorbed the energetic of the birds painted by them. Therefore, for the title of the exhibition, I invoke the concept of a dream as a metaphor for a cultural consciousness, or more specifically, for a cultural memory that involuntarily appears in the oeuvre. When painting, I rhetorically ask if I follow the tradition encoded in me or if I create something completely new. Or perhaps the authenticity of a work manifests through personal relation to the painting’s motif as you seek ways to uncover the hidden colour codes within it, to convey subjective meanings and moods with the help of your brushstrokes.

Viktoras Paukštelis