On 2024 April 11 5:30 p.m. The Raimundos Urbons exhibition “Life under the table” will be opened at the Museum of Photography (Vilniaus St. 140, Šiauliai). The exhibition will run until 2024. June 23.

‘For me, my photography, I see it as poetry. It’s very quiet, it doesn’t scream. It cannot be made. It is so… the way one might hear a tiny little sound. By putting in some effort. Something like that. The very theme itself doesn’t permit being noisy. This tiny world, a life under the table, how shall I put it, in the shadows. Well, and on the table. It is quiet. That’s precisely what the photographic form should be: silent.’
(Excerpt from Sepia, 1991, a short documentary, written and directed by A. Lukošiūnienė)

Raimundas Urbonas’s (1963–1999) photographic world is a concise collection of objects, a quiet tone and a tiny window that limits the gaze, framing the drawing of the author’s thoughts. For the author, this medium is a tool of observation, a magnifying glass in a sense, elevating even the most banal objects to the status of evidence of the truth. He saw and perceived the world around him in this way. That is why he showed it to others in this way too. With a moderate use of expression, he was able to fit a surprising amount into small formats: a colleague’s thoughtful gaze, a beloved woman’s touch, the cosy messiness at home, and a restless childhood. There was also room for hipping trips across the former Soviet Union: newly explored lands, old friends, and the unobtrusive details of domestic life observed. Fragmenting his own and other people’s lives, sometimes pairing the shots and thus expanding the idea even further, Urbonas was always constructing a coherent story, narrating much the same thing: about the fragility of being. No matter who you are with or where you are.

This artist never fled from time, places or people. On the contrary, he was eager to return to the same faces, same conversations, and same places. It was as if he were checking, once again, how sustainable the visual messages he had captured were. On the other hand, the never-ending dialogue he established between space and matter never degenerated into the raucousness of an argument. The author’s photography is all about quiet whispering, sharing, a calm confession, not only about the present but also about what could happen in the future. The deliberately blurred image wears time away, mutes knowledge and masks memories. There is no staging, just a candid gaze that leaves us guessing: has it been or is it yet to be?

R. Urbonas’s photography is characterised by waiting. He hardly used any direction, and perhaps his most important creative attitude was not to move anything. He was concerned with coming to terms with the image without violating its autonomy but, at the same time, expressing his own position. Uncomplicated angles, a carefully planned frame, moderate fragmentation and, at times, the abandonment of grey tones in favour of warm sepia. This is pretty much all he used when constructing his photographic poetry. Ever so little, but enough to be understood.

R. Urbonas was a passer-by. He kept moving with time, and time did not let him stop. Perhaps for this reason, his photographic image always denotes a more active or a slower transition: if not a movement, then breathing. If not life, then its lingering warmth. Looking at the photographic prints, it becomes evident that the telephone receiver will not be picked up, the door will never be closed, and the socket’s black cavities will continue to gape with nothing to feed with electricity. With a casual wave of the hand, my gaze is taken towards the dim light. It no longer matters what it has scorched, what came before. The captured moment is only an in-between state, a passage that began some time ago and has not yet ended. It is just a separate segment of the process. The author invites you to observe but does not oblige you to see. He invites you to listen, but it is not necessary to hear. You can participate in his constructed world by remaining on the sidelines.

Danguolė Ruškienė, art historian

Raimundas Urbonas was born on 2 January 1963 in Plungė and lived in Klaipėda. Around 1980, he started engaging in photography more actively; worked as an artist-photographer at Klaipėda Drama Theatre; and received no artistic education. In 1985, he became a member of the Lithuanian Photographers Association and since then started participating in exhibitions in Lithuania and abroad (Czechia, Canada, Argentina, France, Holland, Sweden, Russia, etc.), and held solo exhibitions. In 1987–1989, he won awards at international exhibitions in Hungary, Poland and Czechia. Urbonas has mainly created stand-alone photographs, but his body of work also includes a few photographic series.

The most famous of them is East Prussia (1991–1992). In 1989–1995 he was a member of the DOOOOORIS Klaipėda artists’ group. In 1997, he was awarded the State Scholarship for Young Artists. So far, two publications presenting Urbonas’s photography have been published: 36 Shots. Raimundas Urbonas (Klaipėda Cultural Communication Centre, 2009) and Raimundas Urbonas. East Prussia (Kitas takas, 2012).

Raimonds Urbonas tragically died on 5 December 1999 in Klaipėda, and is buried in Plungė.

Urbonas’s photographic archives are deposited in the Lithuanian Photographers Association, the Lithuanian National Museum of Art, the Museum of the History of Lithuania Minor, the Modern Art Centre, other museums in Lithuania and abroad, and private collections.

Curators – Danguolė Ruškienė and Remigijus Treigys
Organiser – Artists Association (Kūrėjų sąjunga)
Partner – Department of Šiauliai Aušra Museum – The Photography Museum

Exhibits on loan from the Lithuanian Photographers Association, the Museum of the History of Lithuania Minor, and the author’s family and friends.

The documentary film was lent by Vėgėlės Filmai.

Translated by Skaistė Aleksandravičiūtė