Painter and graphic artist of Lithuanian origin, creator of photomontages, art theoretician and critic, educator, representative of the artistic avant-garde of the 1920s. Born 1890 in Sejny, died 1961 in Vilnius.
In 1910-1911 Kairiukstis was a student of the Vilnius Drafting School, studying under I. P. Trutnyev. He was a member of the secret Artistic Club headed by Ferdynand Ruszczyc. In 1912 he traveled to Moscow, where he resumed his studies in painting in the private studios of V. N. Myeshkov, K. F. Juon and S. M. Dudin, simultaneously studying law. In 1917 he entered the Moscow State School of Painting, Sculpture and Construction, where he studied under N. A. Kassatkin. In 1918-1919 Kairiukstis organized arts workshops as an instructor in the visual arts of the People's Education Department in the city of Voronezh. Drafted in 1919, one year later he became a staff member of the Cultural Department of the 5th Red Army Headquarters in the city of Irkutsk. In 1920-1921 he supplemented his artistic studies under the tutelage of Pavel Kuznyetsov in the Higher Artistic and Technical Workshops (VCHUTEMAS) in Moscow.
In 1921 Kairiukstis settled in Vilnius where two years later he worked with Władysław Strzeminński to organize the Exhibition of New Art that marked the birth of the Polish avant-garde. The exhibition catalogue included Kairiukstis's Constructivist manifesto, which accented the autonomy and universal nature of artistic rights and the intellectual and objective dimensions of art. He was one of the founding members of the avant-garde Grupa Kubistów Konstruktywistów i Suprematystów Blok / Block Group of Cubists, Constructivists, and Suprematists created in 1924. He maintained close relationships with the leading representatives of "new art" and the new artistic ideology, including Henryk Stażewski, Mieczysław Szczuka, and **os:Teresa Żarnower*os_zarnowerowna_teresa**. Kairiukstis participated in Block exhibitions and in the exhibits of the Praesens group, which built on Block's program (1926-29). Between 1923 and 1930 Kairiukstis headed a program known as the Painting Studies for Young People in Vilnius. In 1932 he was appointed vice president of the Lithuanian Society of Literature and Art in Vilnius.
Kairiukstis's artistic stance was highly influenced by the many voyages he undertook between 1924 and 1931. During these years he visited Italy, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, and France. As an art critic Kairiukstis worked with Jan Brzekowski and Wanda Chodasiewicz-Grabowska in 1929 in publishing the Parisian-based magazine "L'Art Contemporain - Sztuka Współczesna". He exhibited in Vilnius (1931, 1944, 1945), Kaunas (1932, 1935, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1944, 1945), Riga and Tallinn (1937). In 1932 he became a member of the Lithuania Artists' Union. Between 1940 and 1944 he was an employee of the M. K. Čiurlionis Museum of Art in Kaunas. Following the liberation of the city, he became a lecturer at the State Institute of the Decorative and Applied Arts. He returned to Vilnius upon his retirement in 1952.
Kairiukstis's early landscapes, painted while he was in Siberia, were characterized by a dramatic expressiveness. His symbolic perception of nature derived from his being strongly influenced by the art of Ferdynand Ruszczyc. His artistic stance was also shaped significantly by his explorations of Russian Futurism, Cubism, Constructivism, and Suprematism (Martwa natura z chlebem i naczyniami / Still Life with Bread and Dishes, c. 1911). Between 1921 and 1926 Kairiukstis painted self-portraits, landscapes, and still lifes, all of which were subjected to a degree of geometric generalization akin to that applied by the Purists. His compositions alluding to human figures are constructed of intersecting geometric figures and planes of uniform color. He also created abstract paintings which drew on the principles of Suprematism (Kompozycja suprematystyczna / Suprematist Composition, 1922/1923). Kairiukstis was also a graphic artist, designing avant-garde typographic schemes and covers for the periodicals "Zwrotnica" ("Junction") and "Revue Internationale MU-BA". He experimented with artistic photography and photomontage, superimposing images from several negatives on each other to create his final pictures. After 1926 geometric figural compositions inscribed in bright colored landscapes began to dominate Kairiukstis's oeuvre; the painterly space within these works was constructed of overlaid and intersecting planes of color. Post-Impressionistic tendencies on the other hand began to dominate his output in 1931. In his landscapes and still lifes, he created generalized forms using smoothly intersecting planes of color; his compositions acquired depth through the interaction of color and light. His landscapes, painted in the region surrounding the town of Poniewież, manifest a deep inspiration with the art of Cézanne and are intensely expressive and emotionally charged. When Kairiukstis moved to Kaunas in 1937 he further expanded the expressiveness of his paintings by restricting the spectrum of colors he used and saturating his works with hues of brown, gray, and black. During the war realistic tendencies became stronger in his art. It was at this time that Kairiukstis created figural scenes charged with political meaning. The artist began to occasionally sketch landscapes in 1944. His spontaneously drawn pastels are built of lively colors that are contrasted or harmonized in tone, with gray as the dominant. Following his return to Vilnius in 1952, Kairiukstis painted suburban landscapes and views of the area around Troki, as well as still lifes in which he expanded single motifs into numerous variations.
Author: Irena Kossowska, Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Science, December 2001.
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