Žilvinas Kempinas: VARTAI 20 Years

22 February - 2 April 2011
Installation Views
Press release



February 22, 2011 Galerija Vartai is pleased to announce a new cycle of exhibitions commemorating its 20th anniversary. The cycle begins with Žilvinas Kempinas' first solo show at the gallery.

Galerija Vartai was one of the first private galleries and among first private businesses in Lithuania after collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Over the course of twenty years Vartai has built a reputation as one of the most important spaces for contemporary art in the country.

In addition to the wide range of national and international exhibitions at the gallery, Vartai participates in international art fairs and organises country representing exhibitions at prestigious international events such as Liverpool or Venice Biennale. In the later one in 2009 Vartai presented widely acclaimed installation TUBE (2008) by Žilvinas Kempinas, the artist commencing Vartai - 20 Years exhibition cycle.  In the same year Vartai launched one of the most successful projects for “Vilnius – European Capital of Culture“ - the ongoing exhibition cycle “ARTscape”, featuring such renowned artists as Hans Op de Beeck, Jesper Just, Atelier Van Lieshout, Erwin Wurm and others in a dialog with national artists such as Žilvinas Landzbergas, Laura Garbštienė, Gintaras Makarevičius, Ugnius Gelguda, S&P Stanikas and others. The upcoming ARTscape exhibition will present the works of Latvian artist Miks Mitrevics.

Žilvinas Kempinas is best known for his perception and space-altering installations, which invite the viewer to participate in the art event as it unfolds. Using magnetic tape as the main medium for his installations, Kempinas' art acquires multiple points of interpretation. Magnetic tape at once becomes a ready-made, while its use addresses the laws of physics and phenomenology. Through the concept of the line in space the artist’s works expand the boundaries of the medium of drawing: his installation Double O (2008) was exhibited in the MoMA’s show On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century (2010) alongside with such artists as Pablo Picasso,Aleksandr Rodchenko, Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp, Vasily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Kasimir Malevich and others.

The exhibition at Vartai showcases five Kempinas' installations, representing different media in different periods of time.  The first room of the gallery transforms into a forest of translucent columns of stretched video tape,


creating spectacular physical and optical experience while walking through the space - installation Columns (2006). Walking further the eyes meet a minimalist in its expression installation Serpentine (2010) in which the stripes of magnetic tapes held by the blowing fans dance freely in a corner of the room. Making a turn to the right the viewer virtually enters the streets of Manhattan (NYC), captured by the artist’s one hour bike trip. Four video cameras fixed to his bike form a hyperactive, multipart constellation through the fast-paced metropolis. (Bike Messenger, 2006).  In the back of the gallery Kempinas presents his latest, previously unseen ink drawings on paper, executed employing a fan. (Fan Drawings, 2010). The exhibition is completed by the rather unexpected hypnotic, brightly coloured installation Ballroom (2010). The latter work opened the New York exhibition season at the Yvon Lambert gallery in the fall of 2010.

Žilvinas Kempinas was born in Plungė (Lithuania) in 1969 and is living and working in New York for more than ten years. He graduated from the Vilnius Art Academy, and later studied at Hunter College, New York. In 2009 he represented Lithuania at the 53rd Venice Biennale and in 2007 he received the prestigious Calder award and the Calder studio residency.

He has been widely exhibited in the United States and internationally, including solo shows in Galeria Leme (Sao Paulo), Yvon Lambert (New York), Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (Gateshead, UK), Kunsthalle Wien (Vienna), Contemporary Art Centre (Vilnius), Palais de Tokyo (Paris), P.S.1 Contemporary Art Centre (New York). Selected group exhibitions include: MoMA (New York), The 6th Liverpool Biennial (UK); Yvon Lambert, (Paris, New York); Lunds Konsthall, (Lund, Sweden); Nam June Paik Art Center, (Yongin Citz, Korea), Manifesta 7, Bolzano (Italy); SFMOMA (San Francisco, USA); MUDAM (Luxembourg).