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Raimondas Paknys’ photography exhibition "The Vestiges of Time: Walls and Colours"

Event date: 2023 y.July0704 d. - 2023 y.September0924 d. All events
The object of Raimondas Paknys’ photographs are the ruins of Christian sanctuaries, mostly Catholic churches and chapels, or more precisely – the traces of polychromy on the walls of these buildings. Marks of polychromy are a universal feature of historical heritage, which allow the photographer to overlook the functional typology of architecture and present examples of artistic culture of an entire region (in this case, the territory of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) and a broad chronological period (the 17th–19th centuries).
The buildings, captured in minute detail using an analog camera, are scattered across an vast territory that once belonged to a single state – the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Today, these lands are divided between Ukraine, Belarus, Poland and Lithuania, however the heritage objects still standing there hark back to shared cultural roots and historical ties. By taking a fragmented and enlarged specific architectural element – the coloured decoration of the interiors and exteriors of wooden and brick buildings – the photographer unveils a weighty layer of history. The large format prints (35 photographs in three formats – 131 × 157cm, 156 × 190 cm and 205 × 242 cm – are featured in the exhibition) catch our gaze and lead us to face a past we know very little about, yet one that arouses our imagination. The contemplation of this architectural polychromy in large format photographic prints draws us into the world of images created by the photographer and gives us a sense of the craftsmanship, taste and aesthetics of a bygone era, while at the same time inspiring a desire to gain a better and deeper understanding of this world.
Colour, ornament, or just traces of them are a very sparing yet very eloquent sign from the past, capable of touching every one of us. Colour and ornament always allude to the need for beauty and conditions conducive to its creation; put differently, the need for stability, prosperity, openness and variety. However, the state of the photographed buildings reveals a totally different side to the history of these lands. Not only time has transformed these sanctuaries into ruins, but foremost it has been occupations, wars, violence, poverty, the elementary neccesity to survive without paying much attention to memory or its signs, having neither the strength, time, knowledge nor resources to find a connection with the past or nurture its legacy. The photographer did not seek to disclose this aspect, but his works clearly convey what happens when a person, a community and society lose track of memory and cease to cherish its signs. This is a terrible loss, which impoverishes, constrains and confines.
Raimondas Paknys took these photographs over the course of more than ten years. Between 2008 and 2021 he would make expeditions into Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania several times each year. Up until Russia’s wide-scale invasion into Ukraine, his photographs could encourage viewers to seek out those monuments or their ruins that had most captivated them and see them in situ, in real life. Today, this is no longer possible – they are hardly accessible, some have even been destroyed.
The exhibition was devised as an installation customised to the spaces of the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania – the large format photographs were matched to the proportions of the museum’s interior, the neutral colour of the halls was chosen as a particularly favourable backdrop for colour photographs, helping to subtly accentuate the polychromatic variety of the buildings captured in them. Onutė Narbutaitė’s music has been incorporated in the exhibition’s installation. The composer offered fragments from her oratorio Centones meae urbi (Patchwork for my City, 1997) for Raimondas Paknys’ photography exhibition. The musical component helps us escape, to detach ourselves from the present time and feel transported to the aesthetic space created by the exhibition authors, thereby bringing the reality captured by the photographer even closer and sharpening our focus on its meaning. At the same time, this is an interweaving of two forms of artistic creativity, as both Paknys’ photographs and Narbutaitė’s oratorio convey the demand for and necessity of the past’s presence here and now, reminding us that abandoning ourselves to times past is impossible, that its fragments can only be seen, touched or sensed – in the vestiges of an image, in a barely audible rustle growing into a sound.
Giedrė Jankevičiūtė
Exhibition organisers
National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania
Raimondo Paknio leidykla  
Exhibition curation, concept and exposition plan
Giedrė Jankevičiūtė, Raimondas Paknys
Exhibition coordinators
Živilė Mikailienė, Marijus Uzorka, Gabija Tūbelevičiūtė
English translator
Albina Strunga 
Exhibition scientific, cultural and educational programme coordinators
Ramunė Šmigelskytė-Stukienė, Paulina Blažytė, Lirija Steponavičienė
Exhibition partner
Vilniaus galerija logo
Exhibition sponsor
Media sponsors
LRT, Lietuvos rytas, JCDecaux, Legendos
Published:: 2023-06-16 14:45 Modified: 2023-07-20 14:30
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