Rutene Merkliopaite (b. 1991) studied painting at the Vilnius Academy of Arts and the Edinburgh College of Arts in Scotland. Since 2011 she has been participating in exhibitions in Lithuania, the Netherlands and Sweden. She was a finalist of the competition “Young Painter Prize” (2013), and held a solo exhibition in Vilnius in 2014.
Merkliopaite continues the tendency of conceptualisation, which is urgent in contemporary painting. In her works balancing between landscape, figurative composition and abstraction she rethinks one of the crucial functions of painting – creating an image – and explores the problematics of the image itself. The painter is interested to what extent a painted image of an object remains relevant in the age of digital photography, and what its relation to the represented object is. Photography is the only one among the media that is characterised by an immediate interaction with the represented object. In painting it is not obligatory – one can paint what one does not see. While painting images from digital photographs, the artist problematises the referentiality of the image: an intermediary – a photograph – emerges in between an object and its painted image. In this way an image of an image is obtained, whose relation to the material reality is becoming multi-faceted and increasingly difficult to perceive.
Merkliopaite is also interested in the relation between the outward appearance of an object and its identity: how much of that identity remains in an image of an image, or if it merely becomes a form or a painting surface. The artist emphasises the imitational, manipulative qualities of that surface and its ability to mislead. Therefore, she questions the reliability of an artwork as a means of documentation, asserts complex relations between an artwork and material reality, and doubts the knowability of artistic reality. While applying these ideas in her works, the painter avoids straightforward narratives, easily recognisable situations or even realistically represented objects, and devotes much attention to painting expression, making use of its diverse possibilities.