Leonardas Gutauskas Tadas Gutauskas

Articles

INCANTORY PAINTING

MEANINGS: The Egyptian experience is probably not unfamiliar to Gutauskas’s paintings. Its signs are sometimes within the structure of visual creations, but they are not sufficiently clear to become a pretext for forceful comparisons.


From one perspective, it appears that he paints visions, which bring closer the vocabulary of Egypt’s creations. Look at The Book of the Dead where words soaked with secret meanings glide in symbolic darkness. What are their meanings? It is not worth guessing even if we solved the riddles, pieced the puzzles, it would be a worthless combination of sound. These texts do not humiliate the reader, do not push him into the unenlightened range, just open up other possibilities for the word. Text which conveys information is earth born, while secretive, unintelligible words and inconceivable phrases – can bewitch, become a prayer, a spell, a curse. Gutauskas’s paintings are like that: saturated with meanings but hidden – not informative, but bewitching meanings.
Shapes molded from symbols are viewed in his canvases. In his assemblage of forms from sundry nations we meet two types of symbols: universal and personal. Pagan and Christian symbols, archetypes, pictographs, zoomorphic and biomorphic forms, forgotten, no longer identifiable signs and easily recognizable characters represent the former. Attributed to the latter group, are the artist’s own creations and details, which can be surmised to be simply ornamental fillers. These signs usually give forth no information unless they create associations.
Neither cultural heritage, nor neologisms are explicated in the picture. They’re not forced to speak. Rather, they’re used as magical raw material. The desire to outwit the creator and read the creation’s text always encounters a fiasco. The more signs you recognize, the more incomprehensible becomes the plot as a whole. Within the heterogeneous structure of the creation, not a single form is repeated, thus an inadequacy of meanings inflates into nine possibilities. Besides, it’s not difficult to portent that the contacts established between the signs destroy their original meaning.
Indifference to singular symbols is instigated by their infrequent release into freedom – more often than not, they land in some organism’s greedy composition and become subordinate to its performance ritual. The appearance is that the painter himself is using symbols irrationally and is not taking it to heart that the work is not informative (in this case it would be more appropriate to say –the work is overly informative). Meanings are sacrificed so that the creation would imbibe incantory powers.
Of course it could be said in another way: the artist is rendering harmless the iconographic nature of the symbols, that no preconceived notions hinder the viewing of the painting.
One could guess that Gutauskas’s contemporary plasticity stimulates two circumstances – the aforementioned solidarity with his personal multitongued symbols and with the desire to break from traditional, canonized painting. Both moments stimulate a game without rules, paintings with no prognosis, difficult to motivate, submissive only to the logical development of plasticity. So shining bodies can be compared with matte, decorative scenes – with lethargic motions of a brush; next to spirals with an attitude lies a bramble-bush of unruly strokes; next to historical citations – infantile drawings held captive by experience. The rebellious nature of the paintings is also revealed by an artist who while manipulating symbols rarely draws their archetypal forms. The sacral colors are frequently exchanged with dominating synthetic colors. Maybe that’s how it should be when the desire is to cast a spell on the users of synthetic products. . .
Gutauskas’s paintings, as should be in postmodern art – is chock-full of paradoxes. Let’s not rush into becoming comfortable with them. This neosymbolist reveals himself unwillingly, thus engaging us with a long-term connection.

Nijolė Adomonytė, art critic