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KAUNAS PHOTO 2014 » Gintaras Česonis

Cities I Met

Gintaras Česonis “The Keys to Lithuanian cities” 6939Gintaras Česonis was born on October 30, 1974 in Kaunas. He is a professional photographer, the president of Lithuania Photographers Association Kaunas department, associated professor in Kaunas Art Institute, exhibiting his photographs in solo shows, participating in group shows, curating exhibitions and editing photography albums. In 2007 he was acknowledged as the most active and memorable Kaunas artist, strongly engaged in national and international projects. In 2010, he received Lithuanian photography artists’ prize for significant activities inspiring photography gallery renovation and starting new activities in Kaunas. The prints by Gintaras Česonis’ are owned by the National Library in Paris, the National Museum of Photography in Spain, the Niger National Museum, and private collections.

Cities I Met was his major recent editorial project for a book about Lithuanian towns and villages in collaboration with a number of writers and one photographer.

Art historian  Margarita Matulytė wrote about Gintaras Česonis’ Cities I Met:

Gintaras Česonis’ photographs caught my eye, or rather they hypnotized me to take a walk around the town. Everything is viscous, like in a dream. The monotony engulfs: empty squares stretching out on a photographic plane that are nameless, and therefore without meaning (only the sign ‘Bus Station’ explains that people leave from here, and sometimes arrive). Pavements lead to the left, and to the right, all ending not on the outskirts of the town, but on the edge of the photograph. Detached houses, some very old, some not very old, but not a single new one. Solitary people, standing or hardly moving. A fog covering the view like a dense screen, enveloping the consciousness and damping any desire to focus on any object and see it more clearly. The word to see is not accurate in this case. Here, other categories are valid: to feel, to hear out, to explore, to realize.

But in reality, things are much simpler. Gintaras is a photographer who does not aim to be pioneering or leading.  Rather, he likes when his work on certain things is the decisive one. He’s proved that by creating a monumental series about Kaunas fortification system, even though photographic works on the subject had existed.

In 2002-3, Lithuanian Photographer Vytautas V. Stanionis was crossing Lithuanian towns and villages to create a titanic documentary work „Lithuania. Images of Farewell“. As the artist stated, he took people-less cityscapes to show that people had already returned from the Independence fever-driven meetings back into their homes, or that they passed away. While visiting a huge number of small towns and villages in 2010-12, Gintaras happened to sometimes stop for a picture in the same stop where Vytautas had (e.g. in Kalvarija). By his pictures he suggests that these small towns do have some living souls. Some not yet dead, others still in their childhood years. A pessimist would regard these images of Cities I Met as dull, but an optimist, especially a fan of cross-country documentary photography, would take it as a puristic and sincere photographic work, reflecting not less about the artist than about the villages.