2011 02 01

Lithuania: The 2011 Guest of Honour at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair

As the 2011 Guest of Honour at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, Lithuania will open the secrets of illustration from a wondrous and yet undiscovered country, to share them with exhibitors and visitors to the Fair. Like a piece of amber that has been washed up on the shores of the Baltic Sea, at the crossroads of the main routes in European history, Lithuania has preserved the oldest Indo-European language and her rich culture. The winds of history have not broken the resilience of this hospitable nation, and have not undermined its inspiring tenacity in creating a future of dreams. Having spontaneously woven these strands of the motherland’s character into their individual work, Lithuanian illustrators invite you to take a look at the world through their eyes.

Lithuania started visiting the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in 1989, the year before its independence. Then a fledgling democracy, it brought to Bologna a rich and deep creative experience from its years of oppression. The limitations of stringent censorship had failed to restrain its illustrators’ imaginations. Their creative power in producing illustrations that were pregnant with allusions, and their technically exquisite and ingenious images proved to be a potent form of defiance.

The fine illustrators’ work from the years of the Soviet occupation not only made famous the older generation of artists and illustrators, they also laid a solid foundation for a unique and demanding Lithuanian school of illustration. It is marked by a diversity of styles and forms of expression, and artists are expected to speak in their own voices, to discover and to become discovered for something new and unusual. The middle generation of illustrators, who faced the challenge of creating a new Lithuania, showed a special resilience, as they had to forge a creative path through the hardships suffered in rebuilding the economy. The youngest illustrators are now committed to emulating their teachers. Their creative potential is no longer hindered by obstacles; they have come to meet the challenge posed by the world that is opening out in front of them, and to embrace the abundance of new techniques, mixed media and different cultures.

Having set a high standard in contemporary illustration, Lithuania is the first of the three Baltic countries to receive the title of Guest of Honour. On this occasion, it brings along a mysterious present, an ILLUSTRARIUM, the opportunity to open a window on to the rich world of pictures born here, to discover its leading artists, their eloquent works and the magic powers of illustration. The ILLUSTRARIUM comprises three exhibitions, reflecting the famous historical period that witnessed the way to freedom, the enterprising period of Lithuanian illustration, and the first shoots of contemporary Lithuanian children’s book illustration. Like a tiny illustration on a page in the book of Europe, Lithuania invites you to look beyond the secrets of the letters and the crisp surface of the sweet, paint-smelling paper …

Lithuania’s participation in the Fair is organized by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania and the International Cultural Programme Centre under the patronage of H. E. Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of the Republic of Lithuania.

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