Pranas Gailius Biography

Pranas Gailius




Pranas Gailius, painter, sculptor, illustrator, and printmaker, was born in Mazeikiai, Lithuania, on January 22, 1928. He spent a peaceful childhood between his home and that of his grandparents, spending much of his time outdoors. He would credit his early exposure to rural life and traditional Lithuanian folkart as a major influence throughout his career. With the onset of World War II, however, the front encroached on nearby Venta. Pranas, just 15, fled with his grandfather and mother to Latvia. Not long after their arrival, Pranas was forced to leave his family and dig trenches for the Latvian army; he wouldn't see his family again for many years. After several months he was taken to Germany where he was put in a camp for displaced people, and in 1944 he feld for Strasbourg, hiding for a time among the sympatheitc Lithuanian community he met there. When the war ended he enrolled in drawing courses at the Strasbourg School of Applied Arts. Finding that he wanted to pursue a more modernist approach than what was available, he moved to Paris in 1950. There, he studied at the F. Léger Art Academy and from 1953 at the Art School in Paris. He spent his spare time studying classical works at the Louvre and other museums.

In 1955 he participated in his first exhibition, which took place at the Galerie du Haut Pavé. His work was well received by Parisian critics and his career began to take root, with offers for more exhibitions throughout Paris. I
t was around this time that he began signing his works "Pranas," preferring a singular name that was easy to remember as he began showing in Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, and the U.S. His work at this time began to depart from representational to pure abstraction, and though he worked primarily in oil painting and watercolor, he began delving into sculpture and ceramics. It wasn't until the mid 1960s that he began to work in fine print mediums, particularly blockprinting. By the early 1970s he was experimenting with deeply embossed, uninked relief printing in combination with color printing, creating textured, vivid compositions. His work was soon acquired by the French National Library, the Georges Pompidou-Beaubourg Center for Modern Art, and several other museums internationally.

Pranas would return to representational works in the 1990s, taking inspiration from religious iconograhy and the creativity of the Lithuanian diaspora he came across on his travels.
He remained active in the art world until well into his later years. A major exhibition of his work, "Les Roses pour Palanga," took place at Gallery of Peace in Palanga, Lithuania in 2013.

Pranas Gailius died in Paris in 2015.

Selected exhibitions:
1955: Galerie du Haur Pravé, Paris
1957: Galerie La Voute, Pais
1958, '59, '60: Galerie Bellechasse, Paris
1963, '64: Galerie Dumay, Paris
1963, '64, '79:
Ciurlionio Art Gallery, Chicago
1965, '68, '70, '79, '81, '83: Salon de la Jeune Gravure Contemporaine, Paris
1966: Galerie Motte, Geneva, Switzerland
1968: La Maison Française, New York University, New York
1970: Galerie de Seine, Paris
1972: Galerie Art et Investigation, Paris
1974: Galerie la Clé des Champs, Aix-en-Provence, France; Galerie du Cirque, Paris
1975, '85: Galerie de l'Atelier Lambert, Paris
Galerie l'Arturiale, Liege, Belgium; Galerie Malecot, Paris; Credit du Nord, Aix-en-Provence, France
1979: Gallery Elizabeth, Chicago
1981: Balzek Museum of Lithuanian Culture, Chicago
1984: Gallery Jarmain, Toronto, Canada
1985: Clin d'Oeil Galerie, Toulouse, France
1986: Hotel de Pompadour, Versailles, France; St. Virgil Bildungshaus, Salzburg, Austria
St. Eustachius Church, Paris
1989: Galerie Boisserés, Köln, Germany; Schloss Gracht, Köln
1990: Galerie 20, Paris
2001: Bienale de la Gravure et des Nouvelles Images, Sarcelle, France
2004: St. Rocco Church, Paris

A complete list of exhibitions, publications, and more can be found here (in Lithuanian).