Bringing new ideas to the world of art
Lithuanian creators are challenging the world with their bold and unconventional approach. Artists representing theatre, dance and visual arts scenes are provoking discussion on vital issues on the global stage. And their impact has been tremendous. Lithuanian artists Lina Lapelytė, Vaiva Grainytė and Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė earned the world’s most prestigious contemporary art award–the Golden Lion–at the 2019 Venice Biennale for their opera-performance Sun & Sea (Marina). This work, whose subject was the calamitous impact of climate change, stimulated much-needed debate both at home and abroad.
Sun & Sea (Marina) was also very much a collaborative work. And it is this spirit of co-creation that lies at the heart of much of Lithuania’s creative activity.
In 2021 Piligrimai (Pilgrims) by Laurynas Bareiša won the Orizzonti Award for Best Film at the Venice International Film Festival. The Orizzonti section of the prestigious Venice International Film Festival is dedicated to the international competition of films that represent the latest aesthetic and expressive trends. Laurynas Bareiša believes that his film, with a budget of 308,000 euros, convinced the jury because of its simplicity. The film is available on the HBO TV platform.
Another fine example lies in the works of the contemporary music ensemble Synaesthesis. For them, collaboration stretches beyond the players in the ensemble, to the audience itself. Winners of the 2020 Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation Ensemble prize, the ensemble’s vision is to create, ‘a flow of energy which can not only be seen but also heard’.
Lithuanian composer Egidija Medeikšaitė has surprised the world with a unique composing method using the principles of textile weaving. Her works transform textile patterns into music what actually seem unecpected and even unbelievable. Has anyone else ever done this? It is not surprising that the artist has already won two Gold Global Music Awards for her pieces Amithaba and Malakosha. Egidija’s works invite listeners into a journey of sounds full of mystery and harmony.
And these are just some of the examples of Lithuanian art that’s accessible to people from all backgrounds (like the theatrical performances of the award-winning director Oskaras Koršunovas whose plays have been staged everywhere from Rome to Taipei).
Champions of high-quality art
Culture plays an essential role in the Lithuanian society. Yearly curated film festivals such as Vilnius International Film Festival Kino Pavasaris draw more than 120,000 attendees, while the Vilnius Book Fair, the largest in the Baltic States, attracts over 70,000 visitors each year. Here, art is enjoyed and loved by people from all walks of life, and its appreciation unites the entire society. You might even say that Lithuanians are a tad spoiled by the quality of cultural events, concerts, and exhibitions, and thus always expect creators to raise the bar even higher.
Meanwhile, the MO Museum, opened in 2018, was designed by the renowned international architect Daniel Libeskind to house a private collection of important Lithuanian artworks. And the response from the local community has been huge, with the museum breaking all previous Lithuanian attendance records. And that’s not all–in 2021, MO Museum was awarded the Portimão Museum Prize as the most welcoming and friendly museum in Europe.
Lithuanian female creators bring their own twist to classical music
Lithuanian female composers and performers have a talent for making an impression on the international music stage. Three artists in particular have received substantial recognition globally for their originality and creativity. These are the opera singer Asmik Grigorian, conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, and composer Žibuoklė Martinaitytė.
Asmik Grigorian is a Lithuanian opera singer, founding member of the Vilnius City Opera and two-time recipient of the Golden Cross of the Stage, the highest theatre award in Lithuania. Grigorian was recognized at the International Opera Awards in 2016 as the best young female singer, and in 2019 as the female opera singer of the year. That same year, the Austrian Music Theatre Awards honoured her for best leading role for her performance in the opera Salome at the Salzburg Festival. She continues her solo career on prestigious world stages–in Vienna, Paris, and Madrid.
Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla is a conductor and music director of the Salzburg State Theatre and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. In 2019, the classical music portal Classic FM named her the world’s best female conductor. She is also a recipient of the Lithuanian National Prize for Culture and Arts. Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla is acclaimed for her musicality and ability to unlock the hidden depths of musical works.
Žibuoklė Martinaitytė is a New York-based Lithuanian composer. In 2020, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. With the album In Search of Lost Beauty… she received two gold medals at the Global Music Awards as the best composer and for the best album. She is also a recipient of the Lithuanian National Prize for Culture and Arts.