Starting January 12th, an exhibition is held in the M. Žilinskas Art Gallery (Nepriklausomybės a. 12, Kaunas) to commemorate the 60th birth anniversary of one of the most prominent personalities in Lithuanian art, the representative of the Generation of the Break and member of the Angis group Rimvidas Jankauskas-Kampas (1957 – 1993).
The outburst of Kampas’ painterly activity coincided with the start of the Restoration of the State’s Independence. The artist’s protest against formal official norms in late Soviet years acquired various forms of artistic expression and manifested itself in a bright colour palette, large size of paintings and in his choice of a radical lifestyle.
As a professional artist, Kampas was active, all in all, for six years only, so the number of works from his Kaunas period is not relatively large. Alongside with his best works which mark the culmination of his career as an artist, the retrospection combines works from the period at the Institute of Art in Vilnius disclosing his creative development in the authoritarian system as well as early works created at S. Žukas School of the Applied Art in Kaunas. The exhibition also displays Kampas’ notes, letters, costume sketches and a poster for the performance of the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre “Wolf Hunt”.
Both, the artist’s letters to his relatives and the diary notes deny the established myth as if Kampas was a spontaneous artist. Going deeper into the painter’s reflections we discover Rimvidas as a systematic creator strictly analysing his formal palette and plastic expression, and as an extremely critical artist. Self-reflections, considerations, analysis of the creative process have turned to the idea of disclosing the artist’s oeuvre at a glance of the artist himself.
The artist’s nickname, “Kampas”, literally means “a corner”, but it’s actually derived from “Bekampis”, which would rather mean “Homeless”. Kampas was born in Klaipėda but ran away to Kaunas when he was 14 to secretly enter S. Žukas School of the Applied Art. He was later expelled, served in the army and came back to graduate from the school, only to enter the Institute of Art in Vilnius right after that. After spending a few years in Kaunas, where he lived the life of a free artist, he came back to his hometown where he died in 1993.
From the reactions in press and social media, it’s obvious that clear the Kampas exhibition be one of the biggest hits in the Kaunas art calendar in 2018. Curated by Genovaitė Vertelkaitė-Bartulienė and organized by the M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art together with Mo Muziejus, the exhibition that’ll run through March 4th comprises over 100 paintings and graphic works from 5 Lithuanian museums and private collections. The works of art have been lent by 23 private persons, by galleries and institutions.