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THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA

29 March 2017
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Painted music of Čiurlionis

Text: Indrė Lauciutė

“I see the entire world as a symphony, people – as music…and the most beautiful melodies are the distant Druskininkai…The steps insensibly turn to the street with plenty of aged trees and old houses. I feel like stopping at one house and pondering, leaning against the gates…” (M.K.Čiurlionis)

Few people in the world know of our Lithuanian national painter and composer, Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis. Even today 100 years after his death. Was he less good than other painters or composers of that time? Probably not. He was, most likely, better than most of them. But he was not the son of a rich country or community. No one was there to help, support and promote him when he needed them most. No one, but he didn’t care. The only task he took care of was creating. I start to believe that the main reason that makes the world to turn is the reason of the people who just follow their heart. Really!

M.K.Čiurlionis is one of them, one of the artists I found for myself and who makes me inspired. I used to think that M.K.Čiurlionis is just one of these “must know” personalities. And, in fact, everyone knows the name of M.K. Čiurlionis in Lithuania. His painting and musical prodigy is a national pride, but there’s a difference in knowing and understanding. I’ll explain. Knowing that Čiurlionis is credited to be the most famous Lithuanian artist that ever walked the earth is different than understanding why he’s credited to be like this.

Čiurlionis “Creation of the World” cycle 5 

Čiurlionis “Creation of the World” cycle 10

 

You don’t need to read about Čiurlionis to know him. It’s just better to look at his paintings or listen to his music. When I see Čiurlionis’ art, I feel like I'm in one of those surrealistic fantasy dreams I occasionally have. I could stare for hours at these paintings, especially at the one from the serious “Creation of the world”. This small world from the forest painted in velvet blue and bright cream white colours makes my mind to change. I see a symbol of faith, hope and sacrifice in it which sometimes is the last thing left to us. Čiurlionis is known for symbolism. All of his paintings take you to the fantastic land, cosmic journey, to the fairytale. It does not matter if it is the "The Zodiac" or "Sonata of the Summer", everything is out of this world that helps you to warm up inside.

Čiurlionis “Sonata of the Summer” – Finale

 

Čiurlionis “The Zodiac” – Sagittarius

To me, art is one of the ways to understand life. What comes out of M.K.Čiurlionis’ works is pure experience pasted together on canvas; a glimpse of what one sees and feels, a rumble of something behind and beyond the image. His mind is his instrument as much as his brush. It seams that he’s playing with vision, intuition, motion, stillness. He can see the canvas as a window through which he can play with reality. That’s extraordinary.

M.K.Čiurlionis is also praised for the ability to depict music in his paintings by giving musical elements a visual form and imitating the rhythm and other components of the music. His music is catchy. The early preludes of Čiurlionis are attractive because of sincereness, the pure melody, temperance, complete form. You can feel that the music is full of harmony, constructive logic goes along with the graceful imagination, improvisation. His music is not for every day. At least this is what I feel listening to his music. It’s special. Čiurlionis painted the series of paintings, some of them to express the cycle or triptych, prelude and fugue or sonatas, divided into allegros, andantes, scherzos and finales. There’s always difficulty to find words for describing the music but it’s for such evenings when you’re longing for something and don’t know for what.

He composed over 250 pieces of music and created some 300 paintings. Most of his works are now housed in M.K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art in Kaunas, but there are some that you can enjoy watching in a small museum in Druskininkai where the artist used to live. You can feel the authentic environment the artist was surrounded by at the end of the 19th Century. I’d like to go there.

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