medis, h 28
Senukas – Dangaus paukštelis, 2008
medis, h 27
medis, h 57
Sūnaus palaidūno sugrįžimas
Be pavadinimo, 1992
Būties dvelksmas 1996
Mergaitė ir paukštelis,
Ramus miegas, 2003
Works of Leonas Strioga in the public spaces of Kaunas
In the square near Vytautas hill, where Laisvės Avenue intersects with the beautiful Trakų Street, quietly stands the sculpture “Motherhood” (1972). Submerged in the shadows of lush trees and possibly unseen by many a Kaunas’ local, it definitely deserves to be recognised. It is a creation of Leonas Strioga (b. 1930) – a famous Lithuanian artist, patriarch of Lithuanian sculpture, recipient of the National Prize. The sculptor has been living and creating in Kaunas his whole life. He has been whittling chamber sculptures, spiritual wooden articles for interior decoration for many years. They have adorned the homes of Kaunas’ intelligentsia, just like Kazys Šimonis’ paintings did before the war.
Another side of Leonas Strioga’s creative work is decorative statues. They are also near us. They are so rooted in Kaunas’ streets and squares that they often go unnoticed. The most important sculptures in public spaces were created by Leonas Strioga in 1970s. Kaunas alone can offer around seven decorative sculptures.
“Motherhood” is also a product of the sculptor’s youth. The artist was still searching for his “own” themes and a personal style in 1970s. This discovery proved quite difficult due to the themes of realism and ideology being the only ones officially recognised in Soviet Union. However, as we all know well, some sculptors became very skilled at this cat-and-mouse game: in order to avoid having to do ideologised monuments for public spaces, they would immerse themselves in creation of decorative sculpture for the street. They would choose female figure and abstracted themes, such as motherhood, repose, dancer, musician, etc., as their main forms of expression. Such generalised motif was handy for inventive experiments in form. Even before “Motherhood” Leonas Strioga had tried out angular cubistic, sleek neoclassicist and folk forms. His two-figure composition “Repose” was erected in Ąžuolynas, in 1966. The sculptor was equally interested in primitivistic language of art, archaic folk forms. This direction in Leonas Strioga’s creative work was reflected in his pieces for the modernly designed restaurant “Trys Mergelės”. One of Leonas Strioga’s sculptures was embedded in the interior and the other at the approaches to the restaurant. In 1969 outside the “Baltija” hotel (now a VMU dormitory) sculptor sailed his “Boats” to a permanent harbour. Back then they caused quite a displeasure among art censors due to their meaning and abstractness of form, however, the piece stayed at its initial location. One can see the “Boats” even today, while travelling on Vytauto Ave.
Let’s get back to the aforementioned “Motherhood” that the sculptor himself reckons to be one of his best works. Delicate forms, lightly wavy silhouette. Light and shadows smoothly slide down the porous surface. The mother is looking down, the expression on her face is calm, reminiscent of a Renaissance Madonna. Delicate movement of her arms embraces a small baby without even touching it. That is the plastic language of this sculpture. The artist chose it consciously in order to express the themes of love and care. It’s a laconic, summarised image of a bright motherly care. The contrast between the sizes of mother and child figures is very distinct. It is entirely unnaturalistic and deeply meaningful: a strong person that knows the value of life – a mother – protects a small and fragile life. This chamberlike, innocuous piece professing eternal values and created by Leonas Strioga is radiating hope, tranquillity and love.
Leonas Strioga was born in 1930, in Medžiočiai Village (Anykščiai District). In 1950–1952 he studied at the State Art Institute (now Vilnius Academy of Art), in 1952–1958 – in I. Repin Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (St. Petersburg, Russia). Member of Lithuanian Artists Association since 1959. In 1980 he acquired the title of the Merited Artist. In 2001 he was awarded with the Lithuanian National Culture and Art Prize, and in 2010 – with the Prize of Kaunas Association of Creators. The works of Leonas Strioga have been acquired by the Lithuanian National Museum of Art, M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art, Kaunas Modern Art Foundation, other collectors in Lithuania and abroad.
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