Group exhibition of young painters: Surface Condition

The exhibition Surface Condition by Mantas Valentukonis, Greta Malinauskaitė and Šarūnas Baltrukonis is opened at the Exhibition Hall of Klaipėda Culture Communication Centre (KKKC) (Didžioji Vandens st. 2, Klaipėda).

The exhibition „Surface Condition“ is an attempt by three artists to grasp the surface of contemporary painting tensions that exist in the dynamic and digitized context of visual culture.

Digital processes (from technological considerations to visual features and trends) make a rich adjustment pictorial model and manner, offering the painting its usual flatness and the specificity of painting to rethink in an unstable state of transposition, transformation and echo.

The title of the exhibition refers to the surface as a significant circumstance in the experience of digital and pictorial media and an increasingly relevant aspect of visual culture. Digital images, lacking the traditionally perceived materiality, emphasize the processes occurring on their surfaces: the image’s texture, intensity, depth, density becomes a kind of substitute for the physical body. This context invites a new reflection on painting itself. The surface of the painting, suggests its physical state, the signs of the author’s touch and the signs of its duration.

The work deliberately mixes digital and pictorial images, observing and exploring the ways they are activated, their nature, similarities, differences and overlapping qualities. The generalized question is being addressed of what is / is not / can be a painting. The authors contemplate on the specificity of painting as a media, provokes mistakes and questions of chance, intimacy and anonymity, proximity and distance.

To avoid hierarchical evaluation, the pictorial and digital surfaces are interpreted as related to each other. In their dialogue, different mediations of image perception develops, conceptual and aesthetic forms of mediation and transmission evolves. Digital and pictorial images become each other’s motive, symptom, cause, as well as content and effect.

By identifying the surfaces of these different media, it is hoped to create – an unexpected, liminal space, suspended between painting and the digital – exhibition as a whole. Ways of embodying the digital image are being searched by realizing its peculiarities on canvas, and in digital works to discover the pictorial effect. Elements of cyber-culture are painted (such as video game avatars, computer-generated textures), visual references to the functions of computer programs are created, pictorial rethinking of the circumstances of viewing digital video is presented.

About the artists

The authors of the exhibition are emerging painters who met during their studies at the Kaunas Faculty of Vilnius Academy of Arts – in their works, they use a different approach to explore the possibilities of painting in contexts enriched by virtuality and the digital world. Considering the traditional way of painting as an exciting choice, the artists exploit different approaches to image compositional tools, digital tools and printing technologies.
Each of the artists has an individual relationship to the theme of the exhibition. Through a careful journey, through the different painting layers of seeing and perceiving – the author explores its pictorial states, conceptualizing the processes of painting and searching for the possibilities of the coexistence of pictorial and digital images.
It is believed and hoped that painting does not drown in the context of the virtual or digital world, inventing new ways of experiencing painting, as well as new material surfaces and meanings of appearances.

Gerda Malinauskaitė (b. 1995)

2018-2019/2020-2021 Painting, Vilnius Academy of Arts, Kaunas Faculty, MA
2014-2018 Painting, Vilnius Academy of Arts , Kaunas Faculty, BA
In her current work, she analyses possible scenarios for the exaggeration of images and reflects on them in her paintings in the context of the possibilities. It is imagined that each painting, in its imagery, tests different (not necessarily possible) assumptions of signification / substantiation, formulated in terms of duration, heat, layer, repetition, distance, inaccessibility. Painting becomes the main medium for such considerations, while at the same time searching for (potentially significant) principles of its functioning as a medium. The author activates the pictorial questions of qualities, while observing how painting treats the image so that we can experience it as significant.

Digital images and tools are used in the paintings to comment on the specificity of it and to offer unexpected guidelines for the interpretation of the painting and the subject matter. It is chosen to speak as if in visual fragments, fragments of images that are not fully familiar to the viewer. Images, although with a concrete pictorial motive, are transformed into abstract or even anonymous in the creative process. The author is focusing on the pictorial image and, in parallel, the possible forms of that image: painting in oil on canvas, creating digital paintings and hybrids of these paintings.

Šarūnas Baltrukonis (born 1998)

2017-2021 Painting, Vilnius Academy of Arts, Kaunas faculty, BA
Using the canvas as a photoshop desktop, his work seeks the connection between nature and digital textures, the collaboration between real and artificial images. In his paintings the author replicates photoshop layers while attempting to add a digital effect to the fragments of the real world he paints. Strict lines, colors reminiscent of advertisements, a sense of flatness on the image surface (typical of digital images), all are used to fill the image with contrasting details that evoke a sense of reality. The canvas manipulates the painted motives to resemble images generated by computer programs.

Mantas Valentukonis (born 1998)

2019-present Painting, Vilnius Academy of Arts, Kaunas Faculty, BA
His work explores, experiences and destroys the boundary between painting and digital image. The works are full of references to cyber-culture: video game avatars and textures, photoshop layers, photogrammetry, augmented reality or other artificial intelligence images generated by artificial intelligence become motives.

In composing the painting, he dynamically confuses the feelings of materiality and immateriality: the author fuses motives taken from reality with the synthetic surface states of cyberspace, the brushstroke contrasts spray paint. The plots of the paintings are also full of tension: they develop the drama of digital characters that do not belong to the realm of physical reality (often descended from such computer Doom, Wolfenstein, DukeNukem, Quake, Max Payne, Resident Evil, Silent Hill). The author connects reality and digital space in other means too. He refuses the reality-like luminosity of the painting and tries to create the impression that the painting, like an image seen through a screen, shines from within. A white-grey grid, adopted from computer image editing software, is also visible in some of the paintings. Arranged at the edges of the canvas, it seems to extend the plot of the painting beyond the canvas, as if to suggest that the plot of the painting develops separately from the painting and transcends the canvas.

The exhibition is open by 6 Nov.
Opening hours: Wed-Sun 11 am – 7 pm