27.06.2019 – 28.07.2019
Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania is opening the anniversary exhibition by the photographer Antanas Sutkus, recipient of the Lithuanian National Prize for Culture and Arts.
“I was born when photography was counting its first centenary,” says Antanas Sutkus, this year celebrating his 80th anniversary. He was born in a difficult time on June 27, 1939 in Kluoniškis, Kaunas county. During a complicated epoch he was studying journalism in Vilnius university, though later he became much accomplished not as a photojournalist, but as a talented photography artist. Also, he made huge contribution to his country by initiating the Lithuanian Association of Art Photographers, and for many years being its president and supporter.
Sutkus dedicated sixty years of his life to photography. He received countless awards in Lithuania, and abroad. Recently he is being rediscovered and appreciated anew. In 2011 his exhibition “Atviru žvilgsniu” (With an Open Gaze) was nominated for Deutsche Borze prize of photography in a museum of Le Chateau d’Eau (Toulouse, France). In 2015 Sutkus was nominated for the prize of Henri Cartier-Bresson foundation and received the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France. In 2017 he accepted Dr. Erich Salomon Award (Germany). Last year famous publishing house Steidl released his photography book “Planet Lithuania”.
Nowadays Sutkus is retired from making new pictures. He dedicates his time to arrange and catalogue his huge archive. The bigger part of his unseen film negatives and photographs feature city of Vilnius and its people.
“Vilnius (Re)collection” is a compilation of prints that were previously unknown to the public. Part of it consists of the prints that were left out of the retrospective Antanas Sutkus exhibition “Kosmos”. It was organized by the National Gallery of Art last winter and received lots of attention from the audience (it was attended by more than 32 thousand visitors). Currently “Kosmos” is touring in Europe and welcomes viewers in Germany and France.
“Vilnius (Re)collection” reveals the city of Vilnius which is familiar and strange at the same time. Vilnius becomes a character. “City is its people, and they are influenced by the architecture,” says Sutkus. “People behave in accordance with the architecture. Different city, different architectural setting would generate different kind of people. Environment is making an effect on humans just like the musical background does. Architecture is the music in still form…”
Part of the works in this exhibition will be published in photography books which are currently prepared with “Steidl”: “Pro Memoria” and “Childhood” (working title). Their release is due at the end of this year.
Today, celebrating his 80th anniversary, Antanas Sutkus steps beyond the limits of that epoch. He connects us to the stories of people and the city, which compose bigger narrative of Vilnius history. His photographs are almost autobiographical, but we never see the observer, he is staying behind the camera. As always, we have this strong sense of master being present in each of them.