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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Visions of Freedom

22 February, 2005 - 00:00

An exhibit by the celebrated Lithuanian art photographer Rimantas Dichavicius was first held in Kyiv in the late 1980s. His works were a revelation for hundreds of thousands of visitors in the Soviet Union and abroad. Kyiv’s L’Art Gallery will soon be hosting his photographic series “Flowers among Flowers” and “Visions” joined together in the exposition “A Hymn of Youth,” which will be a welcome surprise for Dichavicius’s long-time fans and the new generation.

In 1987 his photographic album Flowers among Flowers marked a true revolution in the USSR, where there was officially “no sex.” Rimantas Dichavicius recalls: “An experimental print shop appeared in Moscow, boasting modern Japanese equipment. I had to give it a try, so my works were submitted. There were strict rules at the time. I’ve spent all my life in the publishing business. Censorship was incredibly tough. Photos of all the party leaders were constantly being retouched and editors of periodicals were fired for publishing photos the size of a postage stamp or for showing girls with bare shoulders and knees exposed. My album was shown to Gorbachev. He looked through it and said he didn’t find anything vulgar about it, so the album appeared in print.” Later he had an exhibit in Moscow, with people standing in lines that stretched over several blocks, up to 20,000 visiting every day. It was like a breath of fresh air.

The Lithuanian embassy in Ukraine marked the Day of Restored Independence by staging an exhibit dedicated to liberty. Dichavicius’s works are about eternal things that are always seen in a new light. His creations, which are not computer-generated, combine the charms of Baltic nature and female flesh. Opening the exhibit, Lithuanian Ambassador to Ukraine Viktoras Baublys quoted his wife’s comment, “Many artists love to undress women, but no one does this with as much respect as Dichavicius.”

The Lithuanian photographer is very busy these days. He and a colleague recently visited North Ossetia and published an album dedicated to that country. He says they brought with them a train carload of publications, but his album proved to be so popular that Ossetian President Dzasokhov could only obtain several copies. When he wanted more, he had to get in touch with the strict customs authorities. Dichavicius has been making calendars featuring the works of leading Lithuanian artists for years. His other brainchild is the almanac Baltic Art. He hopes to find gifted people in Ukraine and help them achieve popularity in Europe. He plans to visit Ukraine again this summer “to take pictures, work, and meet other artists.”

This photo exhibit is the first of a series envisaged by the Lithuanian embassy’s large-scale cultural project. According to the Lithuanian ambassador, they expect to hold a number of cultural events aimed at showcasing the best works of Lithuanian photographers, painters, sculptors, stage and film directors. Efforts are underway to launch a dialogue between Lithuanian and Ukrainian artists, and sharing of experience with Ukrainian students: “Lithuania is considerably smaller than Ukraine, but it has a soul that burns as brightly.”

By Varvara ZHLUKTENKO, The Day