ArtVilnius is the only contemporary art fair in Lithuania and the largest event of visual arts in Eastern Europe. ArtVilnius, which had its start in 2009, was one of the most important events in the Vilnius – European Capital of Culture project. Over the last ten years, the art fair has expanded and become firmly established on the local and international art scene, as well as on the list of must-visit events for art lovers.
This is also confirmed by the statistics. Every year ArtVilnius has over 23,000 visitors, with about 65 art galleries from a dozen or so countries participating (Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, the Netherlands, Russia, Italy, France etc). The applications of galleries wishing to participate in the art fair are reviewed and selected by a jury made up of art critics and art market experts, thereby ensuring the professionalism of the galleries at the fair. During a decade of existing, in ArtVilnius participated such famous galleries as Suzzane-Tarasieve, Eric Mouchet (France), Ulf Larsson (Germany), Maksla XO (Latvia), Czułość, local_30, (Poland).
As the only art fair of its type in the region, it aims to be universally democratic. For this reason, the main objectives of ArtVilnius are not limited to stimulating the art market in the Eastern and Northern Europe region, as well as the presentation of a representative panorama of contemporary art galleries. The fair’s organisers have integrated Vilnius into the system of the most significant centres of contemporary art in Europe and have helped it become a bridge between East and West. The ArtVilnius team has established and continues to develop international contacts with contemporary art museums, institutions, curators, collectors, and journalists.
ArtVilnius takes place every year in one of the best exhibition spaces in Lithuania – the Exhibition and Congress Centre LITEXPO, a particularly suitable venue for art events. 12,000 sq. metre LITEXPO exposition space gives gallerists and visitors the complete event package. The architecture for the fair has been overseen for the last several years by a team of architects.
Alongside the supplementary contemporary art galleries programme, a separate project zone is also organised in which various art institutions and individual artists present special exhibitions. ArtVilnius is particularly proud of having in past years presented some of the best-known Polish art institutions (the Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków MOCAK, the Łaźnia Centre for Contemporary Art in Gdańsk) and a programme of contemporary video art by one of the oldest video art festivals in Europe VIDEONALE (Germany). A regular Fair’s participant is the Estonian contemporary art platform NOAR that presents Nordic and Baltic Young Artist Award.
From 2014 the Lewben Art Foundation of the fair’s exclusive partner the Lewben Group has been presenting the collections of world-famous artists in the project zone curated by Francesca Ferrarini (Italy). On the list of these artists, one can find the names of Hans Op de Beeck, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Bertrand Lavier, amongst others. ArtVilnius is also proud to partner with Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre, Contemporary Art Center (Vilnius) and Jonas Mekas Visual Art Center.
The fair is also exceptional in its annual large-scale sculptures and installations show Takas (The Path), in which artists from Lithuanian, Latvia, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Germany, Denmark and elsewhere have presented their work.
ArtVilnius aims to expand the circle of those interested in contemporary art in various sections of society, with a focus on young people in particular. That is why education plays a prominent part in the fair. Every year, visitors can avail themselves of a host of creative workshops and talks, as well as meetings with artists.
Selecting the best galleries, the best artist and the best artworks has become a traditional part of the ArtVilnius programme. A committee of art critics chooses the winners of the following 5 categories: Best Artist, Best Gallery (7 best galleries are selected), Best Foreign Gallery, Best Installation, and Best Young Artist. Additionally, visitors to the fair can vote for the artist and gallery they like the best. Already for several years, the law firm Cobalt, the fair’s Maecenas, has been awarding a money prize to the best young artist exhibiting at the fair.
ArtVilnius is organised by the Lithuanian Art Gallerists’ Association, of which organisation Diana Stomienė, as well as being the director of ArtVilnius, is also the president.