The success of Illustrarium in Bologna

2011 04 06

The world’s largest International Bologna Children‘s Book Fair, held in Italy from March 28-31, has closed. Lithuania, the Guest of Hour Country of the 48th fair, has enjoyed the focus of this year’s event.

The main exhibition of Lithuanian illustrators’ work, the Illustrarium featuring 32 leading children’s book creators of the recent decade, has attracted numerous visitors and a lot of interest. The guests of the fair were fascinated with the ingenious and playful display: they could open numerous doors of the Illustrarium and discover the illustrations for themselves. Next to their work, visitors could meet the artists and receive their autographs, book publishers could present offers for cooperation. Participating in the fair were the best Lithuanian children’s book illustrators, among them, the well known in Bologna artists Kęstutis Kasparavičius, Rimvydas Kepežinskas and Stasys Eidrigevičius, who arrived on the occasion from Poland, and many others.

Besides a panorama of Lithuanian children’s book illustration, the visitors could take closer look at children’s literature and publishing in the country. The Lithuanian Collective Stand featured a collection of Lithuanian children’s books, the selected 200 best titles produced during the recent ten years. The collection was provided a context by four seminars on children’s book illustration and children’s literature.

Two accompanying illustrator exhibitions have been opened in Bologna: Illustrarium: Illustrations by the Young Lithuanian Artists (curators R. Kepežinskas ir K. Kleponytė-Šemeškienė), featuring the work by the students of Vilnius Art Academy, and Illustrarium: Soviet Lithuanian Children's Book Illustration (curators Giedrė Jankevičiūtė and Jolita Liškevičienė), which reflects the creative period of Lithuanian illustrators from 1945 through 1990. This exhibition has become a highlight of cultural events and will stay on in Bologna until May, longer than it was previously planned. The lovers of books and illustrations in Lithuanian will also be able to enjoy this historic exhibition of illustration at the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius at the end of the year. The next year the exhibition will travel to the famous International Youth Library in Munich.

Other events of the Lithuanian cultural programme in the town of Bologna were the children’s creative studio, a selected film programme and photography exhibition. The creative children’s studio You Can Create a Book, organized on the last day of the fair at the Bologna children’s library Salaborsa Ragazzi, has attracted a large circle of book lovers. They were interacting with the famous Lithuanian book artists: Sigutė Chlebinskaitė, Kęstutis Kasparavičius, Stasys Eidrigevičius, Agnes Indre, Sigutė Ach, Lina Dūdaitė, Marius Jonutis, Jurga Šarmavičiūtė and Romas Orantas. Bologna film theatre screened the animated cartoons by Vladislavas Starevičius (1892–1965) and the iconic Lithuanian film The Beauty (Gražuolė, director A. Žebriūnas, 1969 m.), the exhibition Lithuanian Culture in Photography was opened in the heart of the Old Town.

Lithuanian illustrators and book publishers received at the fair not only a positive response, but also concrete offers for cooperation, while the architects “Processoffice”, who created the impressive design of the exhibition, were invited, from the very start of the fair, to participate in I Saloni, the prestigious Milan furniture and design exhibition.

The success of the Illustrarium in Bologna is expected to open new opportunities on the international children’s book publishing market to Lithuanian illustrators and publishers and establish Lithuania as a country of great book authors and artists.