ArtVilnius’21 Best Young Artist: Announces Manifestos for Human Rights and Fights Against Social Inequality

On the first day of the fair, traditionally, the best young ArtVilnius’21 artist (under 35) was selected and announced. This year’s winner is Denisas Kolomyckis, a 29-year-old interdisciplinary artist who is a first-year master’s student at the Vilnius Academy of Arts participating in the fair for the first time. The jury praised and awarded him for his bold manifestation of personality and politics.

The nomination for the best young artist is special in that its winner is the only one awarded a special prize – 2,000 euros. In order to encourage young artists, the prize has been awarded for the ninth year in a row by the Maecenas of ArtVilnius’21, the law firm Cobalt.

The works of the young artist include themes of social inequality and manifestations of politics

One of the members of the jury who selected the winner, Danutė Gembickaitė, the chairwoman of the Lithuanian Interdisciplinary Artists’ Association, stated that they selected a creator who spoke to the audience in a very sensitive, personal, but at the same time strong and manifesting way. This is not the first award for Denisas Kolomyckis. Earlier this year, he was awarded the M. K. Čiurlionis incentive scholarship for young creators, and last year he became the winner of the Young Creator Award of the Ministry of Culture. In recent years, Denisas has organized performances, photography exhibitions, paintings, and created installations related to human rights issues, both in Lithuania and abroad – in London and New York. He has worked with such prominent personalities as Jonas Mekas and Šarūnas Bartas. In Lithuania, he has also earned the title of one of the best-known Lithuanian performers.

D. Kolomyckis is not just an artist. He is also a well-known public figure, activist, and fighter for the rights of women, migrants, LGBT, and low-paid workers, so naturally the themes of social inequality are reflected and dominating in his work. Seeing social inequalities in society, the artist tries to react to them and reflect on them in his work.

“For me, creative work is like an expression of my civic position. There may be a variety of media, but art media is exactly what I can use to talk about the topics of society that concern me – the closest kind of media to me, which sometimes implicitly, and sometimes very directly implies the same issues. Creativity seems to expand the general field of perception of how a work of art can exist – what a specific object can be, what its matter and its general properties are. Most of the time, they respond to social problems that I want to talk about in my work and try to embody in different materials and objects. We often question whether art is political. In fact, it really is. An artist is always political, they always represent an idea, react to certain factors and phenomena that prevail in society, and their work tries to express their personal position,” said the winner D. Kolomyckis.

According to the young artist, the creator in society is as if “narrowed down” in their activities, surrounded by many clichés, therefore the critical expression of the artist is necessary to question certain processes. A work of art is special in that when it is created, the artist leaves it and the work continues to live its own life, while the element of interpretation remains with the visitor or viewer.

At the ArtVilnius’21 art fair, D. Kolomyckis’ works are presented by the VAA exhibition space 5 Malūnai. Its exposition can be seen at stand 3.17. The stories reflected in the works of art in this stand are individual or linked to experiences gained from environments that are exciting and that the creator wants the visitor to pay attention to. 

Denisas Kolomyckis and Irmantas Norkus, the managing partner of the law firm Cobalt in Lithuania

D. Kolomyckis: “The most important thing is to create and not stop creating”

According to the managing partner of the law firm Cobalt in Lithuania, which established the award for the best young artist, Dr. Irmantas Norkus, it is fun that the winning young artist is brave, progressive, and rebellious.

“By awarding a special cash prize to the Best Young ArtVilnius Artist, we aim to help young artists expand their creative possibilities, implement the strangest ideas, and help them create a different, better, and more progressive future. Contemporary art offers not to give in to the flow of time, to established knowledge and thinking, it always has an element of novelty, often talks about awkward things. Denisas announces manifestos in his work, sincerely strives to change established norms of society, destroys traditional thinking and stereotypes. He is a great example of a young artist who fosters the progress of society. We wish him to continue to talk in his works about the ideas he believes in, to strive for change, and to impress all art lovers,” said Dr. Irmantas Norkus.

According to D. Kolomyckis, this award was unexpected for him, but very pleasant. “I really appreciate the award, it’s like certain empowerment to continue creating art. It is not easy for young artists at the beginning of their creative path, but I would like all artists to create and not stop creating, to set their exact priority for what they live for – that is, their work. I intend to use my award for creativity and share it with those who need it the most,” said the best young artist D. Kolomyckis.

About ArtVilnius’21 awards 

In addition to the nomination for the best young artist, the following nominations and awards of the fair are also established: Best Gallery, Best Artist, Best Sculpture or Installation, Audience Select Gallery, Audience Select Artist.

The winners are selected by a special ArtVilnius’21 jury. This year it consisted of the chairwoman of the jury and independent curator Laima Kreivytė, artist, writer, and curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow Monika Kozioł, art researcher, critic, and photographer Virginijus Kinčinaitis, curator of contemporary art Neringa Bumblienė, and art critic and chairwoman of the Lithuanian Interdisciplinary Artists’ Association Danutė Gambickaitė.

ArtVilnius’21 is funded by the Lithuanian Council for Culture
Under the patronage of Vilnius City Municipality
Maecenas is the law firm Cobalt