Antanas Sutkus "Daily Life Archives 1959-1992"

Galería Oliva Arauna, Spain

Associate Director

‘Daily life is a boring thing’ says Antanas Sutkus. But he doesn’t quite mean it. The statement is a provocation, a challenge to make us see as he does, and perhaps to make understand one’s self. This is born out in the photographer’s further suggestion that observation of daily life is ‘a form of meditation open to all of us’.

The work of Antanas Sutkus, awarded with the most prestigious photography honours and exhibited in countless museums around the world is a exceptional example of this. His gaze is steady and aestheticizing, holding his chosen subjects close. Author of more than 700.000 photographic archives about daily life during Communist Lithuania 1956 – 1989, this is going the first time those documents are going to be shown in Spain in a solo exhibition.

His photographs are beautiful, but they are not chocolate-box pieces produced without thought. Doubtless, there is formal appeal – his meditations have discipline. However, composition is not the key. The space between the camera’s lens and his vision has dissolved. Sutkus’ beauty is being at home in the world, with people. It is the practice of acceptance and empathy – a humanistic approach best demonstrated in his portraits of children and the elderly. Jonas Valatkevicius has noted that the photographer’s concern for individual characters always runs prior to socialist accoutrements. As much is evident in his profoundly affecting image The Blind Pioneer(1962), political interpretations aside, the portrait – like so many others from his archive – presents a singular mental state; a space of feeling.