Monday, 11 February 2013

Antanas Rukstele - Artist

Antanas Rukstele

Born 22 October 1906 in Degučiai, Zarasai district, Lithuania.  
Died 5th October 1990 California, USA.

Painter, art historian,ethnographer and founder of an art school in Germany. President of the Adelaide Lithuanian Community Council 1950-52.

In 1928 he finished school in Kaunas. In 1929 he graduated from Kaunas Art School. Later he studied painting privately with J. Kalpokas and J. Mackevičių.  Between 1928 - 1929 he studied Advanced information technologies. Between 1926 - 1936 studied history and philosophy at Kaunas‘ Vytautas Magnus University. In 1934 he receives Swedish Baltic Institute (Stockholm), scholarship, graduated in ethnology and museology courses. 1926 to 1936, was MK Čiurlionis gallery and museum curator. Between 1936 - 1944 he was Vytautas the Great Museum of Culture board member of the Lithuanian National History Museum instructor.

Antanas with his wife Elena and three children fled the Soviet occupiers of Lithuania and made their way to Germany.  Two years later he established an art school in Dillingen refugee camp and was its Director and teacher until 1949.

The Lithuanian camp in Ludwig was part of Dillingen UNRRA field team 308th.  Antanas designed the money for the Ludwig's camp.  Tender was issued in two copies on white paper, and the other on light purple paper. Tender was issued with a value of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 50 units (units).

The design is based on the Lithuanian tulip motif, which together with UNRRA sign, is printed in green ink. Text and numbers are printed in red.  All the tender have the same design on the obverse is the inscription LITHUANIAN CENTER DP LUDWIG Dillingen / UNRRA UNITS / TEAM 308th.

He and his family left Germany bound for Australia on the ship Oxfordshire arriving on the 25th May 1949.  They were transferred to Woodside migrant camp in the Adelaide hills.  It was here  he held his first solo exhibition of watercolours in Australia, most of which he had painted in Germany.

Antanas held a number of solo exhibitions in Australia, in 1950, 1952, 1953, in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne. 

His first solo exhibition was held in March 1950 in the Curzon Gallery in Gawler Place.  It was reviewed several times in the local newspaper.

'A new Australian's impressions of his new country will be given in an exhibition of water colours by Antanas Rūkštelė, opening at the Curzon theatrette, Gawler place, tomorrow.
Rūkštelė, who is a Lithuanian, is the first migrant to give his own art exhibition in this State.

Rūkštelė’s exhibition will mainly consist of South Australian scenes and pictures painted of the Danube and the Bavarian Alps during his five years in Germany. '

More to follow...

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