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As Statehood Day approaches, photographer Raimondas Paknys invites visitors to remember the heritage of our historic state

The object of Raimondas Paknys’ photographs are the ruins of Christian sanctuaries, mostly Catholic churches and chapels, or more precisely – the vestiges of polychromy on the walls of these buildings.
These vestiges of polychromy are a universal signifier of historical heritage, which allow the photographer to overlook the functional typology of architecture and present examples of artistic culture that existed over an entire region (in this case, the territory of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) and within a broad chronological period (the 17th–19th centuries). The buildings captured in minute detail using an analog camera are scattered across an enormous territory that once belonged to one 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 bonds.
The artisanal mastery of a bygone era – captured in a photograph
The exhibition that opened at the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, The Vestiges of Time: Walls and Colours, is on display over two levels at the Exhibition Centre. Visitors will be able to see photographs that Raimondas Paknys took over the course of around ten years. Between 2006 and 2021, he has made a number of expeditions into Ukraine, Belarus and around 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 impossible – they are hardly accessible, some have even been destroyed.
“By taking a fragmented and enlarged specific architectural element (the coloured decor used in the interior and exterior of wooden and brick buildings), the photographer unveils a weighty layer of history. The 35 large format prints catch our gaze and lead us to face a past we know very little about, yet one that arouses our imagination. This new exhibition draws us into the world of images created by the photographer and gives us a sense of the taste and aesthetics of the mastery of a skill from a bygone era, while at the same time inspiring a thirst to gain a better and deeper understanding of this world”, – says the author of the annotation for Paknys’ exhibition, art researcher Giedrė Jankevičiūtė.
The images and music played at the exhibition will transport you to another space
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 in the buildings.
Onutė Narbutaitė’s music has been incorporated in the exhibition’s installation. The composer recommended fragments from her oratorio Centones meae urbi (Patchwork for my City, 1997) for Raimondas Paknys’ photography exhibition. As Jankevičiūtė writes in the annotation, “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”.
Raimondas Paknys’ photography exhibition The Vestiges of Time: Walls and Colours will be open to visitors at the National Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania from July 5 until September 24.

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Published:: 2023-07-04 12:31 Modified: 2023-08-08 12:39
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