Seven Days in Rusnė, or the Blooming of the Dandelions, 1971
In the end, this series of works was not exactly how Linas Katinas had imagined it. Take a closer look – can you guess what was changed? Here’s a hint: the paintings were meant to be as lively and wild as the painter himself. As a young man, Katinas loved to ride his motorcycle through the fields and along forest paths. Sometimes, at night, he would turn off his headlight to better see the light of the moon. On such wild rides, Katinas traversed Lithuania until he discovered Rusnė, the only town in the country founded on an island. The fields around the town glowed yellow with blooming dandelions.
The memory of this discovery revisited the painter‘s imagination in 1971, when he was thirty years old, with the creation of his series Seven Days in Rusnė, or the Blooming of the Dandelions. The number of flowers in each painting corresponds to a day of the week, and the words combine to form the common name of the piece. The landscape we see here is very abstract: a minimalist depiction of the sky, fragments of a cloud, and the green expanse of the field, but our eyes are immediately drawn to the paintings‘ main accent – the dandelions.
The entire series was first shown at a secret exhibition in the apartment of sculptor Vytautas Šerys and his wife Judita in Užupis, in central Vilnius. During the Soviet years, the apartment space was widely known as an unofficial art gallery. Katinas‘ work and other avant-garde pieces were put on display as works that were unrecognized and rejected by the Soviet regime.
What was so offensive about these innocent dandelions? Dandelions are a symbol of freedom, growing anywhere they please – in fields, city squares, or in cracks in the sidewalk. Even in the Soviet era, they served as references to hippies and flower children, as a thumb in the eye of normalcy, and as an expression of the desire for freedom. But the real offense, the true act of blasphemy, was Katinas‘ decision to insert actual dandelions into holes poked in his canvases. This was the change the artist made to his original concept. In earlier years, the artist himself would replace the dandelions with fresh ones. Because dandelions aren’t in bloom today, we‘ve inserted fake ones.