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Augustas Serapinas

A disused window from an old Vilnius neighborhood

"I am interested in the creation of alternative points of view. They make for more diversity, which is often lacking in institutions and the art world in general ... I am always looking for these kinds of ‘glitches’."

Augustas Serapinas

The artist

Augustas Serapinas (b. 1990) is an artist based in Vilnius, Lithuania. He received his BA in Sculpture from the Vilnius Academy of Art in 2013, after spending his final year in the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Subsequently he completed the Rupert Educational Program in Vilnius, and in 2014 he received the “Best artistic debut of the year” prize awarded by the Culture Ministry of Lithuania.

While increasingly meeting a strong international response, Augustas‘ approach has remained deeply rooted in the cultural fabric of his home country, Lithuania, that for many he only ever put on the map for the contemporary artworld. Already when a student at the Vilnius Academy, he had pushed against its institutional confines, finding a hidden space within the Academy to use as a secret studio, and creating a bolthole for himself in a cavernous water pipe feeding into the Vilnelė River to allow as an alternative, underground viewpoint of his hometown. Since then he has taken many visitors to Lithuania around there with him.

Augustas has now become an intellectual traveler between the Baltic and Western Europe, and his work has already been part of numerous biennials and group exhibitions, including the 57th Biennale di Venezia, 2019, and ART BASEL Unlimited, 2023. In 2019, he held the Artist-in-Residency Fogo Island Arts (FIA) in Canada. In addition, Augustas’ work has been shown in many solo exhibitions, for example, at Kunsthalle Wien, the Centre of Contemporary Arts in Tel Aviv, as well as two big shows with Tschudi Gallery in Zuoz (CH).

Augustas Serapinas is already represented in renowned public collections such as the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich, the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, Tate and Centre Pompidou. Credit Suisse Collection acquired the work Notes from Užupis in the Paris Internationale Fair, 2019, from Emalin, the artist’s gallery representing him in London.

As Augustas has personal ties to this city we hope to set up an event/discussion with him later in 2023. It will be an opportunity to discuss what kind of ‘glitch’ his reconfigured win-dow from a Vilnius neighborhood provides on Credit Suisse’s Canary Wharf ‘Story Wall’.

The work

Augustas Serapinas tells stories of places, people and site-specific memories, most often in the form of installations and single sculptures. By removing the usual properties of the original spaces and objects and attributing new characteristics to them, Serapinas challenges our previous perceptions. In many of his works he engages with his country of origin and illuminates facets of Lithuania’s geography, history and culture in subtle and humorous ways.

Serapinas’ framed glass panel, that was to enter Credit Suisse’s Art Collection as Notes from Užupis 14, in fact came from an abandoned greenhouse in a Vilnius town district of the same name. One of the city’s oldest, and separated from the Old Town by the Vilnelė River, Užupis, since the early 1990s, has grown into a neighbourhood of artists, intellectuals and entrepreneurs. On 1 April 1997, residents of Užupis decided to declare independence: Somewhat tongue-in-cheek they established an artist-driven republic of 7,000 inhabitants, with its own authorities and money, an anthem and constitution, and above all, a free spirit. Since then, as often happens, a process of gentrification started that, eventually, led to the disappearance of the district’s genuine character.

So the property with its the original greenhouse had actually been sold to investors some time ago, but the land had continued to grow wild whilst a suitable use for it was to be found. The reclaimed window frame, with its dust and plant-stained glass, was originally part of a bigger installation: In September 2019, Serapinas relocated a the weathered greenhouse from Užupis to a gallery space in Munich. Although it was essentially useless and broken, the wooden shell was transferred to this new environment with great logistical effort and rebuilt there to be conserved for a certain amount of time.

As a single sculpture item Serapinas’ Notes from Užupis 14 came into being by translating a historical residue into a technical operation: Since the landowners had left the property, weeds had taken over the grounds. The window glass with its attached plants were heated in a kiln together with coloured pigments until an amalgam of different hues, air bubbles and ash were formed. Thus, the burnt plants left behind a trace of their own self in the very moment of their own disappearance – creating a somewhat paradoxical logic of preservation through destruction.

André Rogger, Curator, Credit Suisse Collection

Augustas Serapinas, Notes from Užupis

Augustas Serapinas, Notes from Užupis 14, 2020, reclaimed window frame, stained glass, 97 x 46 x 5 cm