Collection: TOTEMS. William Bakaïmo | Adelė Liepa Kaunaitė | EXHIBITION

Adelė Liepa Kaunaitė (b. 1990, Lithuania) | William Bakaïmo (b. 1988, Cameroon)

In the exhibition TOTEMS, we embark together into the world of mystical experiences and images. This exhibition presents artists from two different cultural contexts, yet we find a common theme in their work – totemic beings and objects that serve as key symbols, aiming to open the doors to the depths of the human subconscious.

Traditionally, a totem is defined as an object or being with special powers, a symbol of identity for a certain social group, and a unifying social factor. Both William Bakaïmo and Adelė Liepa Kaunaitė frequently feature zoomorphic and anthropomorphic motifs in their work; the narratives and figures in their paintings invite us to recall myths and folklore; totemic beings or objects often appear as separate elements of the works, sometimes the entire work transforms into a sacred, totemic figure; the narratives of the works invite us to free our consciousness, to act intuitively, to turn to the primordial knowledge that connects everything, existence, the mythical memory of ancient cultures.

In the work of William Bakaïmo (Cameroon), one can recognize a recurring totemic element reminiscent of the mythological Lithuanian aurochs – the deer. The deer, a master of camouflage, constantly changing color, shedding its old skin, sensing danger – and its tail, symbolizes emotional, intellectual growth, the release of outgrown, unnecessary forms, the ability to survive and adapt to changing life circumstances. The deer, having become the artist's totemic guide, in the words of the painter, "sleeps within him and constantly sheds its skin to become a new human."

The works of Adelė Liepa Kaunaitė (Lithuania) seem to echo William Bakaïmo's call, sometimes depicting a desert-like human consciousness, inhabited by characters of fairy tales, unicorns, mermaids, planets, unrestrained strokes. Elements composing the universe, to which Adelė lends her painting hand, begin to follow the tales on the canvas about the creation of the world, the collision of planets, the secret life of plants, and about man, not the human consciousness perceived as a clear form of man, but rather – a man intertwined with the world – a "plasm," as Adelė herself puts it.

The artists' works question the beginning of human existence, hidden in relation to nature, now constrained and buried in the oblivion of many due to the project of modernity. "You need to develop your senses to hear the whispers of the elements composing the universe – the wind, fire, water, and celestial bodies – and interpret the messages they convey," says William Bakaïmo. Living nature is instinctive, its rhythm aligns with the natural rhythm of this world, and according to the artist, by turning to the world of nature and ancestors, one could learn many things.

November 7, 2023 – December 2, 2023

TUMO Gallery, Užupio str. 28, Vilnius

Opening hours: Tue-Sat 14.00 – 19.00