Jonas Jurcikas (b. 1986) studied painting at the Vilnius Academy of Art. Since 2009 he has been participating in group exhibitions in Lithuania, Poland and Estonia. In 2011 he became the winner of the international competition “Young Painter Prize”, where he also won the audience prize. His paintings are held in the collection of the Modern Art Centre in Vilnius. His works are included in the album “Lithuanian Painting from 1960 to 2013” (2014), and reviewed in the introductory essay by the outstanding British art critic Edward Lucie-Smith.
Jurcikas’s paintings are visually very attractive. Bright colour combinations reminiscent of fruity chewing gum or candies, classical and realistic modelling of forms, and smooth meticulously painted surfaces are evocative of an animated cartoon. But only at first sight. These colourful canvases leave an ambiguous impression: there is tension between the surface and the content.
The iconography of Jurcikas’s canvases is complex and connects culture, politics, history, folklore and mythology of different epochs. Criticism of the art of social realism, its monumentality and the utopianism of its ideas can be clearly felt in his works. The painter suggestively continues the creative tradition of Komar and Melamid, Vladimir Dubossarsky and Alexander Vinogradov, Neo Rauch and other artists who explored similar themes, supplementing it with the context of his own place and time. His multi-figurative compositions are a meeting place for characters from different epochs and fields – from Jack-of-All-Trades to Jesus Christ. It seems that their placement in the same space is bound to create a conflict, which is often expressed directly, through aggressive battle scenes, and sometimes is only implied. In his compositions Jurcikas explores different manifestations of heroism while emphasising the relativity of this concept and its dependence on the context. Finally, the concept of heroism itself begins to waver, and the paintings turn into a kind of anti-monuments ironising heroism. In a way, the characters become the symbols of confrontation between the East and the West, mass culture and art, the past and the present, reality and fiction. In the presence of this all-embracing struggle one is struck with the thought that despite ideological differences everything is part of the same absurd system. The paintings are imbued with the premonition of hopelessness, which is reinforced by overstated glitzy optimistic colours.