On the occasion of the exhibition “Jonas Rimša (1903–1978). The Magic of Fire and Jungle”, organized on the basis of the collection owned by the Lithuanian Expatriate Art Foundation which was held in the Vytautas Kasiulis Art Museum, the Foundation has donated nine paintings by Jonas Rimša to the Lithuanian Art Museum.
Jonas Rimša was born on in 12 June, 1903 in a small village of Svėdasai, and grew up in the city of Kaunas. He graduated from Vienna‘s best sewing school, but then, dreaming to become a painter under protest of his father, he went to look for happiness abroad. From 1931 to 1934, he studied at Buenos Aires Academy of Arts (Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires), which then was the best throughout South America. In 1943, upon invitation from the Bolivian government, he established an art school in Sucre city, and became its head teacher. Later, he founded his own private art academy (Curso Superior de Bellas Artes), whose students became known as “Rimša‘s group.” This group has grown a number of artists, of which the four brightest Jonas Rimša sent to continue their studies in Europe at his sole cost and expense.
His restless spirit of a searcher encouraged Jonas Rimša to travel and improve his skills constantly. The painter lived in Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, the United States, and Tahiti. He knew the jungle well. He especially loved to paint in Bariloche. The artist discovered two oldest American Indian tribes – Aymara and Quechua, delving deep into their living and customs, and rejected the prevailing Eurocentric approach to the Spanish-conquered indigenous population by elevating their spirituality in his art, drawing attention to the American Indians as the custodians and successors of deep cultural traditions.
The desire to know the ancient primitive cultures led Jonas Rimša to the distant Tahiti, where the famous French painter Paul Gauguin searched for his creative inspiration. The Tahitian life, as exposed to civilization, had significantly changed since Paul Gauguin times, still the newly-discovered another world inspired the painter for extremely colorful painting. Paul Gauguin admired the earth drenched by the heat of the sun, but Jonas Rimša was fascinated by the mysterious light and color of the jungle shade. In the life and movements of the Tahitian people, he felt a distinctive musical rhythm, and discovered their unique love dance Tamure that remained banned in the times of Paul Gauguin.