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Remigijus Pačėsa
About the Author
  • Art photographer.
  • Born 1955 in Marijampolė.
  • Member of the Lithuanian Union of Art Photographers since 1982.
About the Artworks
“Grey day – grey seagull...” reads the caption that Pačėsa gave to one of his photographs featuring a pier, an iron tower with a loudspeaker, a leaning cement pillar, a tire, soaked clouds, a lagoon and a dune in Nida. A grey seagull flies away in the corner. It is 1981, a period when romanticized attitude to reality dominated in Lithuanian photography. However, a few young photographers – Alfonsas Budvytis, Algirdas Šeškus, Vytautas Balčytis, Violeta Bubelytė, Remigijus Pačėsa and Gintaras Zinkevičius – showcased deprecated objects, battered bodies and grim places, all the while listening to their ragged poetry and laughing at the all-encompassing lie and exalted seriousness.
This stand, a palette of greyness bursting with bitter laughter, will remain in Pačėsa's work throughout his life and despite changing means of expression. Having graduated from Vilnius Technological School in 1979, he spent ten years photographing buildings – exteriors and interiors – while working at the Institute of Urban Construction Design. This was followed by being only a “free artist”: creating photographs, monotypes, watercolours and collages. However, photography always remained central as he had a perfect ear for light.
Having made his debut in 1980 in the Third exhibition of young photographers, Pačėsa drew everybody's attention by his ability to create poetic metaphors through a certain connection between the title and everyday view. A point in case is Rainy evening (1980) witnessing unfolded photographic paper sheets slowly dying in twilight. Or else, I am back (1982) where a jacket dropped on a sofa stretches out its meagre sleeve and flaps its sides like some sloppy macho still trying to preserve its splendour. Objects come alive, plants show off their private affairs, while the city resounds with its bustle of darkness, dense rhythm of stairs, extensive asphalted fields and the swishing of trodden grass. The length of these visual notes is precisely calculated, as though instead of actual objects the photographer had seen compositions of light. But as soon as one gets impressed by the abstract structure, hollow clanging of waste containers is heard. These stand everywhere like monuments; theirs is a smell of reality, reminding that everything comes to an end and that beauty can lie in the worst of places.
At the beginning of Lithuania's independence Pačėsa took an interest in photo manipulation. He would lay different spaces over each other into so called “sandwiches” wherein one object ironically comments on the other. “The Yellow Swan will not Return” reads the caption he gave to a photograph of a river. On a razor attached to a Soviet soda machine: “The razor is attached to this photo because the chain is attached to the mug” (1992). Sometimes even an almost empty view (nothing but pavement or asphalt) would be filled with funny stories.
Later on Pačėsa moved to Marijampolė and, having acquired a digital camera, began taking colour photographs. “Shtai” or “shtai Mari...”, deformed by English spelling, would suffice for a title. Upon capturing resin splashed on a Soviet-built five-storey building, he jokingly captioned: “My house shat on by a grasshopper”. While a clump that he observed through all seasons was called At poet's grave. Pačėsa recalled that “there was a legendary draft beer kiosk (the beer would usually be diluted with water) called “At father's grave” near Adam Mickiewicz monument in Vilnius during the Soviet period. They say, there may have been an abandoned grave there, but memories are blurry now”. He laughed as he was saying this, because all existential depths have a comic side to them. This is known to every man who has succumbed to bitterness of life and is also known to Pačėsa, in all his photographs. This is why the title of one of his last exhibitions, “Shadow shows light”, sounds like a summary of both photography and existence. At the same time it coincides with inscription “Lucem demonstrat umbra” engraved at the foot of Nida sundial, a footprint that Pačėsa left in stone through architect Ričardas Krištapavičius.
So, initially in Vilnius and then in Marijampolė, Pačėsa walked the same paths every day and pointed his camera to the same pavement after rain, in fog, under fallen leaves or snow, on a grey, sunny, white, but most often grey day. Shot after shot, day after day the city gets covered with layers of images of the same places. Thousands of small differences emerge, as the light draws the city differently every day. The whole lot of impressions, though, are in a firm grip of geometric construction of the image: the relationship between planes and depths, rectangles, arcs and semicircles, and perpendicular, horizontal and tilted lines. Strictly structured photographs capture the process: as the city is slowly disintegrating, images should mark the passing of time; however, this disintegration comes from the past, therefore nothing changes. As the wind meticulously blows tree branches between depth and plane, the city crumbles in a slow blink of an eye, but hovers in whitish fog in rhythm with typical days and for the whole grey eternity.
Agnė Narušytė
All works by this artist
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