The exhibition presents artefacts of the spiritual and ritualistic life, such as figurines of goods and objects of rituals, of native peoples of regions we know little about, namely Australia and New Guinea. Aboriginal paintings are like ancestral maps, family stories, travel notes, so called Dreamtime visualizations.
Most of the statues of ancestors displayed in this exhibition were used in rituals as seats of gods and were held in houses of worship or placed on prows of boats to protect against evil spirits. Papuans treated these statues and masks as intermediaries between the dead and the alive, with power over victories in war and success in hunting and love. They just couldn’t have been trivial. Now they attest not only to the mythical world view that bore witness to the childhood of humanity, but also to what we have lost in the process of civilization.
At the start of the 20th century, the great reformers of the European art turned to works of the primitive tribes in the search for spontaneity, sincerity and vitality – something that works of primitive masters had plenty of. The powerful direct expressiveness of statues and masks from Africa and Melanesia, conveying the anxieties, fears and horrors in the subconscious mind of people that lived in the wilderness, significantly influenced the development of European art, becoming a source of reference for cubists, expressionists, surrealists and other modernists in their pursuits of plasticity of form. The previous century opened the Australian Aboriginal and New Guinean art the doors to the world’s most prestigious museums. And the 21st century brings irreversible changes to the existence and everyday lives of these indigenous people.
The exhibits are from the Lithuanian Art Museum’s collection. These samples of primordial tribes’ art have been brought to Lithuania by a cultural and public figure and scientist, Dr. Genovaitė Budreikaitė-Kazokienė (1924–2015), who is originally from Kaunas and has lived in Australia since 1949. Her contributions and merit to Lithuanian culture are countless. One of her largest donations was a valuable collection of Australian and Oceanic tribal arts. Travelling through Aboriginal reserves, Kazokienė put together a rich collection of one of the oldest arts in the world. Symbols refined for thousands of years and left on rocks, eucalyptus bark and desert sand give an idea of laws passed on by the ancestors, the most important of which was harmony with the environment and oneself.