Let’s begin here with some practical advice: if you have a friend named Raimundas (and if you know a Lithuanian, there’s a good chance that’s his name), but you’re not entirely sure that’s his full name, just call him “Raimis”, the short version, and you’ll never go wrong. There are many men named Raimundas and women named Raimonda in the Lithuanian art world, but there is only one Raimis: a master of subtle humor, an actor without a corresponding diploma, a perfect culinary artist, an intriguing conversation partner, a carver of wooden spoons, and a passionate sailor who crisscrossed the Atlantic in a yacht name Dailė (Art).
Known as Raimis by his family and friends, Raimondas Sližys was part of the generation of artists of the 1990s who expanded the Lithuanian artistic palette to include colors of humor, irony and satire. Together with his classmates Henrikas Natalevičius, Mindaugas Skudutis, Romanas Vilkauskas and Bronius Gražys, Sližys established an informal group of artists whose work was referred to by critics as “kirmėlizmas” – wormism. For these artists, depicting the small details of life was a response to the grandeur of socialist realism. Their works provoked emotional/stormy debate, and their ideas, while not always immediately understood, were always widely discussed.
At the time, colors such as rose, pink and cream were associated with excessive mannerism and poor taste. This may be why Sližys chose them to portray daily philistine life and, to be sure, its more meaningful aspects. He titled one of his works: Thank You to the [Communist] Party for Giving Me the Chance to Sketch Such Paintings, and one year later he painted this work, Fountain.
Of course, the most important thing here is not the fountain, but the action taking place around it – the people and the masks they wear. It seems as if the masks of some of the participants in this carnival event have fused with their faces – as if they are no longer able to remove them with their truncated, stubby arms. The creatures appear to be circling the fountain, their eyes shut. Perhaps this is not a carnival after all, but a regular day in the life of a city’s inhabitants? Only Raimis could provide us an answer to this question.