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MARIJA RIMA TŪBELYTĖ-KUHLMANN (1923–2014) "THE WAY HOME"

Date: 25 May 2017 00:00 - 19 November 2017 00:00

 

Historical Presidential Palace of the Republic of Lithuania, Vilniaus St. 33, Kaunas


Marija Rima Tūbelytė-Kuhlmann painted more than 400 canvases. In 1996, as Marija was visiting M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art she expressed her wish to make her one-person show in Kaunas. Today this dream comes true as her son Peter Kuhlmann in 2016 donated a collection of 66 paintings the for M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art. Curator Ingrida Jakubavičienė prepared a special project for Lithuanian council for Culture which helped to ship the Marija Rima Tūbelytė-Kuhlmann painting collection from Florida to Kaunas and to prepare exhibition „The Way Home“.

Marija Rima Tūbelytė-Kuhlmann was born in 2 November 1923 in Kaunas, Lithuania. Her parents were prominent Lithuanian political figures. Her father Juozas Tūbelis was a member of Lithuanian government since 1918, holding many ministerial portfolios and from September 1929 until March 1938, he was Prime Minister of the Republic of Lithuania. Her mother Jadvyga Tūbelienė and Lithuania’s first lady Sofija Smetonienė were sisters.

Marija was interested in art since her childhood. Her mother invited the famous Lithuanian artist Petras Kalpokas to give painting lessons to 10 year old Marija. In June 1940 the Soviet occupation in Lithuania completely changed Maria‘s life. She had to emigrate to the United States of America and start a new life there. In 1941 she was given a scholarship to Wooster College in Ohio. After graduating in 1944, a year later she won another sholarship, to attend graduate school for art history at the University of Chicago. After completing her studies at the University of Chicago, Marija Tūbelytė decided to resume painting and enrolled at the Art Students League in New York City. Soon she worried about her style, because none of her paintings looked like what the others were painting. The teachers at the Art Students League advised to follow her inclinations and paint in the way she wants. So she developed her own style of painting which was contrary to the fashions of the day which were then focussed on the abstract and expressionist. Marija painted in a naive and simple style, with vivid colors, which always had remembrances of her homeland, Lithuania.

In 1958 Marija Tūbelytė-Kuhlmann and family moved to Portland, Oregon. There she got more serious about painting and devoted herself to portraiture and landscape paintings. She had her first one-person show at the University of Portland in 1963. Marija Rima Tūbelytė-Kuhlmann worked in oils and later acrylics. In the early Portland period her style fully matured and she improved her technique. Her style, as she herself explained, is best described as “primitive“ or “naive“. Her paintings convey a quality of simplicity, and happy life in easy rural surroundings. The works in many ways are memory paintings because no matter where she painted she always painted and represented the scenes of Lithuania she remembered from her youth. In particular, the clouds in her landscapes are always that of her homeland regardless of the paintings’ subject locations.

In 1968, she moved to Taiwan with her husband Kurt Kuhlmann and son Peter. There she exhibited her work at the Magic Touch Gallery in Taipei and participated in several group shows. In 1971 Kurt and Marija moved to Kobe, Japan. The Katzura Gallery in Osaka arranged a travelling show of her work in Kyoto, Nagoya, Wakayama, and Osaka. She was also invited to exhibit her paintings at the American Club of Tokyo and at the International Club in Kobe. In 1978, she took sixty of her canvasses to the United States, where they were exhibited in the Lithuanian Community Centers of Los Angeles and Cleveland, and at the Lithuanian Art Gallery Čiurlionis in Chicago.

In 1985, Marija and her husband moved to St. Petersburg Beach, Florida. Marija Rima Tūbelytė-Kuhlmann continued her artistic activities there and participated in many juried shows in the Tampa Bay area and other parts of Florida. She was chosen to be the featured artist at the Sun Tan Gallery in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida and won many prizes at her favorite gallery in Longboat Key, Florida.

Marija was very excited by the Lithuanian Independence of March, 1990. In 1992 she became a citizen of the Republic of Lithuania. On May 3, 2014 she passed away in St. Petersburg, Florida. Her last will was to be buried in Lithuania. This will was fullfilled by her son and she was buried next to her father at Panemunė cemetery in Kaunas.

 

Exhibition is organised by Historical Presidential Palace of the Republic of Lithuania and M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art.


Exhibition works: 25 05 2017–19 11 2017