Julius Valiunas working on one of his “Country Canvas” paintings at his hillside studio in Narrowsburg, NY

 

Baseball guru Yogi Berra once opined: “The future ain’t what it used to be.”

Julius Valiunas’ “Artifacts From The Future” cuts through time and space to directly expose the viewer to expressive truths via multi-media work. From his earliest innovations as a New York City art worker in the 80s and 90s to the present moment of creating what he refers to as “Country Canvas” paintings on salvaged metal roofing, Valiunas continues to express …

His “Artifacts” exhibition of 2016 traced the paths Valiunas took from producing pieces at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and from Brooklyn to Berlin, Vilnius and Amsterdam to back to the Catskills. This included his never-seen-before paintings on floor and wall mounted scavenged car hoods, as well as photography and sculpture fusing the 2nd dimension with the 3rd. From pastel drawings, oil & acrylic on canvas to surreal backdrop examples from his time as action painter with a theater group traveling Europe and New York’s Lower East Side, Valiunas is an original. (One critic for the Munich Volkskrant newspaper called his set designs the expressions of “a semi-abstract poet”).

Born in the 1950s, the son of a Lithuanian diplomat instrumental in the struggle for Baltic independence, Valiunas was raised in the suburbs of New York City. Valiunas and a generation of unsung artists honed their attitude outrage against nuclear arms buildup, the ravaging of apartheid and US policy in Latin America and the Middle East into their geo-political art. Issues exploded from their work, but it seldom found its way to the walls of major galleries and museums.

One of the most prolific of this contemporary school, Valiunas is an artist whose commitment to social causes found him managing new alternative spaces in which to present a range of painting, sculpture and performance. In SOHO he co-founded the artists collaborative “10 on 8.” Across the East River he helped form the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition (BWAC). Another iconoclastic group was SCUD, which performed as a post-surreal improvisational art entourage. In one never-seen-before (or since) scene in the late 80’s, they art-bombed the opening of the New York Metropolitan’s Vatican collection by offering an alt. show in a mobile gallery of artifacts removed by the Holy See censors (artifacts of anatomy before the fig leafs, e.g.).

Currently working in triptych format on his “Country” canvases with paint & tar, inspired by outsider artists like the Gullah painter Sam Doyle, Valiunas manipulates them as set pieces on found barn metal like Sam would do. Thus the title of this retrospective envisions reflections from the past passing onto the future, inspiring viewers in the present moment.