Jonas Gasiūnas (born 1954), a representative of the middle generation of painters, and one of the most important figures in contemporary Lithuanian painting, whose canvases are impossible to mistake for anyone else’s. Gasiūnas creates his work by painting with the flame of a burning candle. This highly original technique is conceptually fundamental to his work: he draws figures with smoke on previously painted canvases. This method emphasises the transition from presence and disappearance. The figures are visible, but at the same time they are just smoke. The images lie one on top of the other, although they remain transparent, like figures emerging in memory, lacking links with an actual time or place. The photographic method of constructing images which was dominant in the artist’s earlier creative period has lately become cinematographic. Several concurrent memories and narratives can be identified in his canvases. The stories he creates contain an intertwining of subjective experience, art history, religion and popular culture. He is also known for being provocative with sharp criticism of political, social and historical themes, and rethinking the relationship between the Soviet period and the present.
An equally important part of the artist’s work is the titles-micro-histories that he gives to his paintings, which often redirect the interpretation of the work in a different direction.
In 2009, Jonas Gasiūnas won the Swedbank Art Award given to contemporary Baltic artists, and in 2010 he was awarded the Lithuanian National Arts and Culture Prize. He currently heads the Painting Programme at the Vilnius Academy of Arts, and continues to make a significant contribution to the evolution of the new generation of painters. Gasiūnas’s works can be found in the collections of the Lithuanian Art Museum, the M. K. Čiurlionis National Art Museum, the Tretyakov Gallery, and the European Central Bank Gallery. He has participated in group shows at the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius, Kumu Art Museum in Tallinn, TPK Art i Pensament Contemporani in L’Hospitalet, Spain, and has organized solo shows at the Contemporary Are Centre in Vilnius, the Łaźnia Centre for Contemporary Art in Gdánsk and the Centre of Contemporary Art in Toruń.