Looking Down on 1970s Lithuania

Antanas SutkusSutkus' photos helped Lithuania become the center of Soviet photography.
If you don't know what it was like to see Lithuania in the 1970s from a bird's-eye view, then let Antanas Sutkus show you.

Sutkus, one of the Soviet Union's most famous photographers, has an exhibition on display at the Photographer.Ru gallery, housed in the Winzavod Center of Contemporary Art, through Oct. 26th.

Photos in the exhibition, "Sign of the Times," show the Baltic country and its capital, Vilnius, from high up, making the viewer feel as though he is flying over the country. "I have had a desire to climb up onto everything since I began taking photographs," Sutkus said.

"Antanas Sutkus is a photographer with a world reputation, a living classic, the founder of the Lithuanian photography school, which became a photography center throughout the entire former Soviet Union," said Larisa Grinberg, the director of Photographer.Ru gallery.

The exhibition is the first in a series called "The Origins of Contemporary Russian Photography," which will be held at the gallery.

Sutkus' exhibition is being held at the same time as another one in Britain. The photographer has divided his photos between the "Sign of The Times" exhibition in Moscow and "Lithuanian Portraits" at London's White Space Gallery.

Antanas Sutkus

Born in Lithuania in 1939, Sutkus started taking photos at the age of 15 after he bought his first camera, a Smena, the low-cost 35mm camera made by the LOMO factory. He had wanted to buy a radio or a bicycle but only had enough money for a camera.

Sutkus tried to become a journalist but quickly became disenchanted. Instead, he worked as an independent photographer and became famous throughout the Soviet Union and Europe.

As a photographer, Sutkus co-founded the Photography Art Society of Lithuania, which helped promote Lithuanian photography. He is currently chairman of the Union of Lithuanian Art Photographers.

However, he has stopped taking pictures because of health problems and a lack of inspiration.

"One has to love people to take pictures of them," Sutkus said. "Besides, I'm too busy with my work at the Union and with my archives."

He is not enjoying his current job, however, because he has to deal with government officials.

"I would like to see photos and beautiful girls in my dreams, but I only see the officials torturing me," Sutkus said.

Antanas Sutkus' "Sign of the Times" runs through Oct. 26th at the Photographer.Ru Gallery, 1 4th Syromyatnichesky Pereulok, Bldg. 6. M. Kurskaya. www.winzavod.ru. +7 (495) 228 1170.