PATRICIJA JURKŠAITYTĖ / National Portrait Gallery
MAY 4 - JUNE 16, 2018


CLOSED: MAY 18 / 19 / 20 + JUNE 3

The National Portrait Gallery is a series of twelve young women’s portraits. The title of the exhibition has undisguised links with the London National Portrait Gallery, which hosts exhibition of portraits of famous and historically important personalities in the country. With the surge of feminist concerns for equality throughout the world this is a focus on female self-identification within a socio-political predicament. These portraits represent a professional working woman in a post-soviet (since 1992) Lithuania and the specific identity she can construct for herself in this context, perhaps unlike one in the USA. Does the feminist goal of equality and freedom override local cultural pressures or is there a universal achievable aim? This group is a portraitists’ analytic study in self-assertive identity as seen in a mirror.

Even though the women who were modeling for me are also quite successful in their professional activities, it is not reflected in my portrait gallery. I have replaced both the idea of he National Gallery and the standard criteria for a portrait as a genre with my own concept. The identity of these women, their prominence and importance has been hidden. By painting each one of them, I rejected all the tasks that the artist usually sets out in creating a portrait: revealing the person’s spirit, character, emotion, status and perhaps values. A viewer activates a portrait. Rembrandt’s portraits still speak to us today as if alive, even though they have been around for as long as several hundred years. Meanwhile, my goal here was to create the opposite illusion: the women who look at you from my pictures do not see the viewer but are self reflective, absent to communication.

In implementing these ideas, the painting process itself was substantive. For this purpose, I constructed a posing structure with a mirrored partition that separates the model from me. The model  saw only her own reflection in the mirror, while I was painting from the other side, examining how she saw herself. The portraits of the series are united by this general inaccessibility atmosphere, as well as character type, which is quite close to the stereotypical image of the Lithuanian woman (for example, Lithuanian Girl with Palm Sunday Fronds, the portrait of a young girl that Kanutas Ruseckas painted in the 19th century, which became a symbol of Lithuanian romanticism). Being conceptually identical, the images only differ from each other in the details of the anatomy of the models: the subject of my painting is not a person, but general phenomena, such as emptiness, deficiency, absence of relations, stereotypes, and manifestations of nationalism, which again have grown more visible in the world.

National Portrait Gallery, 2018, 2:55 min. Video by Matas Bartaška

Patricija Jurkšaitytė (born 1968 in Vilnius) graduated from painting studies at the Vilnius Academy of Arts in 1993, where she was student at the course taught by artist Kęstutis Zapkus. Since 1992, her works have been presented in group and personal exhibitions in Lithuania, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Turkey. Among the very latest solo exhibitions by Jurkšaitytė are National Portrait Gallery at Contemporary Art Center (2017) and Dutch Stories at gallery "Vartai" (2013), both of which are located in Vilnius, capital city of Lithuania. The works of Patricija Jurkšaitytė are kept in private collections in Lithuania and other countries.

. . .

Special thanks to the portrait models: Rūta Frankė, Kornelija Ludavičienė, Agnė Sataitė, Edita Užaitė, Ugnė Bužinskaitė, Indrė Tubinienė, Giedrė Žickytė, Monika Diršytė, Teodora Každailytė, Rita Kavaliauskienė, Kristina Norvilaitė, Jolanta Varanauskaitė

. . .

We also would like to express our gratitude to Danguolė and Viktoras Butkai for their help and support organizing the show. Thank you!


All images are from the series National Portrait Gallery, 2015-17, oil on canvas, 77x53cm.                Photo: Vidmantas Ilčiukas

Limited edition Giclee (pronounced ‘Zhee-Clay’) pigment prints are available for purchase at the gallery. Giclee printing is meant to produce a higher quality longer lasting prints. All prints are printed on archival paper using pigment inks, that has a lifespan 100-200 years without significant fading. This is an edition of 20 prints from a series of 12 portraits titled “National Portrait Gallery”, all signed and dated by an author.

  • More Patricija Jurkšaitytė's artwork