Author: Vizgirda Viktoras, 1904 - 1993
Material / technique: oil on canvas.
Dimensions: 92x72.5 cm.
Signature: V. Vizgirda / 43 (in the top-left corner of the painting).
Had it not been for Janina Kazakevičiūtė-Valeškienė (1903–?), this picture of a woman who appears to be on an amateur stage set would be just a modest example of the profound work of Viktoras Vizgirda (1904–1993) from the war period. The wives of artists usually become known only for important professional achievements. But even then, their appearance is rarely recorded visually. By leaving us a portrait of the wife of his colleague Adolfas Valeška, Vizgirda prompts our interest in the personality of the sitter and the circumstances under which the portrait was painted. It shows that in Nazi-occupied Vilnius, relationships between members of the community of artists were especially strong. Vizgirda, the rector of Vilnius Academy of Art, and Valeška, the director of the Vilnius Art Museum, and even their families, were often brought together by wartime problems, which limited the possibilties for socialising. The picture also reflects typical wartime styles: medium-length hair held with a kerchief tied above the forehead, a modest short-sleeve blouse in a light fabric, and a tight dark skirt, as can be seen in photographs of London or Nazioccupied Paris and wartime documentaries. Valeškienė was both the wife and the sister of artists, except that her brother Leonardas changed his surname from the polonised Kazakevičius to the more Lithuanian Kazokas, as was common at the time. At the end of the war, when her husband moved to the West, Valeškienė remained in Lithuania. She lived in Kaunas and looked after his pictures, documents and photographs.
Reference: "More Than Just Beauty. The Image of Woman in the LAWIN collection." Compiled by G. Jankevičiūtė. Vilnius, LAWIN, 2012, P. 94.
Exhibitions: “More Than Just Beauty: The Image of Woman in the LAWIN collection”, 12 October – 11 November 2012, National Gallery of Art; Vilnius.
Published: "More Than Just Beauty. The Image of Woman in the LAWIN collection." Compiled by G. Jankevičiūtė. Vilnius, LAWIN, 2012, Kat. No. 3, P. 94; "Kaunas-Vilnius 1918-1945”, The Art collection of the law firm Ellex Valiunas. Compilars D. Barcytė, dr. I. Burbaitė. Vilnius, 2021, P. 214; "Muziejininkas Adolfas Valeška lengvai mezgė pažintis, puikiai laviravo tarp valdžių, tačiau prasileido Kazio Borutos smūgį", www.lrt.lt, Culture, 2022.06.04.
Photographs: display in the exhibition “More Than Just Beauty: The Image of Woman in the LAWIN collection”, 12 October – 11 November 2012, National Gallery of Art.