Director Gildas Aleksa was announced the winner of the Most Memorable Artist of Kaunas 2019 – organized by the Kaunas Artists’ House for the 22nd time.

He was nominated for this title by the Kaunas City Chamber Theater for “unintentional ubiquitous presence and opening of everything; for stirring up communities and the spreading of practical democracy through art”.

Selected by experts

G. Aleksa, who has been nominated for the Most Memorable Artist of Kaunas City for two years in a row, was noticed by the commission, which was put up specifically for the competition, for an outstanding breakthrough and recognition in the professional sphere of theatre and Kaunas art scene in 2019.

This year, the competition received 8 nominations and the winner was chosen by experts in theatre, fine arts, photography, music, and dance: theatre scholar, Associate Professor, Dr. Rūta Mažeikienė, art critic, Dr. Professor Rasutė Žukienė, Head of the Lithuanian Dance Information Center, cultural manager Gintarė Masteikaitė, photography critic and theorist, photographer Dr. Tomas Pabedinskas and composer Zita Bružaitė.

Out of the comfort zone

“In 2019, the extent of Gildas’ work and his prominence increased. On the one hand, he was not overlooked or underestimated in the theatrical context. Gildas was awarded the Fortūna Award for his directorial work and was also nominated for the Golden Stage Cross Award in the young artist/strong debut category. Therefore, the professional field evaluated him both on the city’s and national level, which is a serious acknowledgement. On the other hand, last year Gildas worked a lot in inter-artistic contexts. His public-staged performances (such as the opening of the Kaunas Biennale or the Fluxus Festival) seem to have made him a striking figure in the entire Kaunas art scene,” theatre scholar Dr R. Mažeikienė said.

According to her, it is very important that after spending his childhood and youth abroad, G. Aleksa invests his creative energy in Kaunas’ cultural landscape, without seeming to think about a reward or any other evaluation. This is very well reflected in the contemporary circus festival Cirkuliacija, which the director has been organizing for several years now.

“The festival is held every year in a different microdistrict, which is definitely not as comfortable as organizing an attractive event in the city centre and inviting the cultural audience. When you create in that type of environment, you risk and face various – at times even very hostile – communities but in this way, you also slowly make friends with them. You leave the comfort zone, which, in my opinion, is a very important thing; you awaken life and communal creativity in a rather acultural context,” R. Mažeikienė said.

All three are worthy of the title

However, this year’s commission did not find it easy to make a final decision because the final three candidates were prominent personalities. In addition to G. Aleksa, the experts also considered the candidacy of sculptor Robertas Antinis and conductor Jonas Janulevičius. Although they didn’t get the title of the Most Memorable Artist, they were no less important to the Kaunas art scene in 2019.

According to the art critic, Dr R. Žukienė, sculptor R. Antinis is like an active volcano – this artist’s creativity does not seem to be fading. “His works are very bold; he is not afraid that some part of society may not understand or accept it. He trusts people and he is not going to give superficial explanations. Antinis keeps taking new paths without knowing where they will take him. His originality lies in a desire to do everything differently. I find Robertas’ creative risk-taking fascinating,” R. Žukienė said.

Meanwhile, composer Z. Bružaitė singled out Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Macbeth conducted by the Kaunas State Musical Theatre’s principal conductor Jonas Janulevičius, “This is a major event, not only for Kaunas but also for the whole Lithuanian music scene. I am a witness to this success. ” According to the composer, Macbeth conducted by J. Janulevičius is an ambitious production, especially since the news about the premiere of the opera has attracted not only professionals but also the general public. It is difficult to get into the play because the tickets are disappearing fast.

There were other people aspiring to become the Most Memorable Artist of Kaunas City in 2019, including Gintaras Česonis, choreographer Birutė Letukaitė, artist Česlovas Lukenskas, conductor and head of Kaunas State Choir Petras Bingelis, and actor Andrius Gaučas. The laureate G. Aleksa will be awarded a one-time scholarship worth € 800. Last year, painter Audronė Petrašiūnaitė was chosen as the most memorable artist of 2018.

Discussions are taking place

This year Kaunas Artists’ House also invites to participate in the elections of the Most Memorable Cultural Initiative of Kaunas City and District 2019, where all Kaunas residents and residents of other cities, who follow Kaunas cultural life, can submit nominations and vote for them. At the moment, the public’s proposals are being put on a list, which will shortly be presented to the public vote.

In the context of both elections, discussions have traditionally taken place, allowing a critical review and evaluation of the past year, introducing the work of various artists and cultural processes to the public. The first discussion, The problem of ecological art practices and their recognition in Kaunas’ contemporary art, took place on January 23, 6 pm at the Kaunas Artists’ House. It featured architect Aistė Ambrazevičiūtė and performance artist Daina Pupkevičiūtė; the discussion was moderated by art critic Valentinas Klimašauskas.

The second discussion, accompanying the election of the Most Memorable Cultural Initiative of Kaunas will take place on February 4, 6 pm at the Kaunas Artists’ House. Its topic will be People – the source of cultural initiative financing: patronage and crowdfunding. It will feature cultural manager and art critic Rasa Antanavičiūtė and the head of LRT Klasika radio program Julijus Grickevičius. The discussion will be moderated by cultural manager Viktorija Mašanauskaitė-Rinkšelė.