Grey, but not Grey
Grey, but not Grey
Photographs: Algirdas Šeškus
Publisher: Kaunas photography gallery / Galerie du Château d'Eau
Comments: Hardcover, 250 mm x 250 mm
Vilnius based artist Algirdas Šeškus (b. 1945) is often cited by the texts on art criticism and the history of photography to mark the breaking stage in Lithuanian photography.
The artist made his debut in 1980 during the young photographers’ exhibit in Vilnius, held by the Union of Lithuanian Art Photographers. The very first of his showcased photos revealed a new phenomenon challenging Soviet culture.
However, his art has not as of yet received a comprehensive analytical investigation and appraisal. A recent dialogue with the artist breaking the silence of nearly thirty years was inspired by his retrospective at the National Art Gallery in Vilnius, where the works of Algirdas Šeškus – the pioneer of Lithuanian photography avant-garde were on.
The photographer is characterized by an interest in the nature of the image, by a match of intent and meaning with the fact (when the event is the actual shooting) and by de-contextualization of content. In creating art outside any trend or direction, stripped of a theme or subjects of artistic research, deprived of conceptual projects, he emerges as a practitioner of a “dilettante” aesthetics. He is constantly balancing between artistic nihilism and fetishism of a creative act, between the underground and the official art scene, between collectivism and individuality. He has been critical of traditional representation of reality, of modernist originality and of the necessity to seek innovation in general. This has found reflection in his blurred shots of “disorganized” composition, in unexpressive, minimalist form of low-resolution prints. and intentional selection of uninteresting, trivial content. In order to emphasize the “dilettante” stylistics of his work, the author leaves his photos untitled, does not indicate precise time or date of making them and ignores standard principles for exhibiting photography.
The recently published as individual books photographic archives of this unique artist have not only lifted him from obscurity, but provided sufficient grounds to compare him to such masters of 20th-century-photography as Boris Michailov.
The photographs by Algirdas Šeškus from the 1970s and 1980s, misunderstood during Soviet area, are time-transcending examples of avant-garde expression responsible for a radical transformation of aesthetics in the art of photography.
However, in the early 1980s, Algirdas Šeškus was not alone to resort to a new photographic language: Alfonsas Budvytis, Vytautas Balčytis, Remigijus Pačėsa and other artists of the new wave adopted a platform of a passive observer as an alternative to the dominant romantic sensibility embodied in the artwork of the representatives of traditional photography Antanas Sutkus, Romualdas Rakauskas, Aleksandras Macijauskas and others.
Photography historian, Dr Margarita Matulytė