Sculptor, creator of the first works of landscape art and architecture in Lithuania.
Landscape creator of the Europos Parkas open-air museum.
Founder of the Europos Parkas and Liubavas museums, author of books and photographs.
Researcher of Liubavas Estate heritage and ethnography.
National Advancement Prize laureate.
President of Public Institution Europos Parkas from 1993 until the present time.
Member of Vilnius District Municipality Council.
Member of the Lithuanian Royal Union of Nobility (descendant of a noble family), Uszacki Coat of Arms.
Gintaras Karosas was born in Kryziokai village, Vilnius district, on the 25th of June, 1968.
He graduated from the Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts (Department of Sculpture).
In 1995 the artist took museum studies in Japan and the USA (at the invitation of the US Information Agency).
In 1987 he found a place near Vilnius suitable for a sculpture park and started clearing wild neglected woodland. Gintaras Karosas was nineteen at that time.
Gintaras Karosas is the descendant of his grandmother’s nobleman family who were awarded the Uszacki Coat of Arms, a variety of Junosza herb, for the military merits. The herb displays a lamb with a bleeding side and a broken horseshoe and an arrowhead above. As a bearing in heraldry a lamb symbolizes patience, endurance and courage. The Nobility was awarded in the mid of 17th c. at the wars with the Moscow State when, according to K. Niesieckis (K. Niesiecki), one of the progenitors, the son of the noblewoman Potiomkinaitė (Potiomkina) from Smolensk voivodship, commanded the defence fights of Liucinas (Lucyn, Ludza, Lutzen) castle and was wounded. For the merits at war he was given the manor in Inflanty (Livonia) duchy.
K. Niesieckis and A. Bonieckis (A.Boniecki) maintain that Uszacki Coat of Arms is of the German origin. The Ušackis (Uszacki) family roots come from the former Dzisna – Breslauja pawiets in Ušacas (Uzsac, now Belarus) which in some confirmation documents is misleadingly called Ušakovas (Uszakow).
Another Coat of Arms of the Karosas (Karas) ancestors might have been Dabrovo (the horseshoe and three crosses in the blue background). The Coat of Arms was awarded to the participant of the first Crusade as early as 11th c. for courage defending the Saint Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Back from Palestine he settled down with his family in Poland and left many descendants. However, the lack of documents prevents the proof of legitimacy of the Coat of Arms to the family of Karosas living in Lithuania. During recent centuries the large kin was living around Anykščiai and Utena. One of the big families – 18 sons and daughters – was that of Gintaras Karosas’ great-grandfather Jurgis Karosas (1856–1937) and his wife Barbora Juodelytė (1854–1940).
The closest kinship of the Karosas family was fostered by the brothers Antanas and Klemensas Karosas, natives from Vėjeliškiai (near Anykščiai). The Bishop Antanas Karosas (Karas, 1856–1947), the Bishop Ordinary of Seinai since 1907 to 1920, later served as the Bishop of Vilkaviškis. The Bishop was the publisher and editor of the first Lithuanian periodical in Kaunas Nedėldienio skaitymas (Weekend readings) since 1905 and was prominent active figure of public life. His brother Klemensas Karosas (1866–1933) was one the most famous engineers in the interwar Lithuania holding the position of the Road and water ways Board Director in the Communications Ministry up to 1927.
Many of the Karosas family got their merits in the military service. Like the brother of Gintaras Karosas’ grandfather, the Colonel Lieutenant Antanas Karosas (1891–~1941) who hold very high position of the department head in the Armament Board of the interwar Lithuania and was awarded with many orders and medals. Upon occupation of Lithuania by the Soviets, he was arrested by KGB and his fate is not known by now.
Upon restoration of Lithuania’s independence in 1918 Gintaras Karosas’ grandfather Vladimiras (1886–1947) was one of the first land planning officers graduating from the high school in the Tsar Russia. Vladimiras Karosas served as a clerk in Utena County planning service and hold a position of the land planning manager. On 16 February 1931, for his merits he was awarded by the President of the Republic of Lithuania A. Smetona with the Duke Gediminas order. The wife of Vladimiras Karosas was Kazimiera Ušackaitė (1906–1931).
In 1944 Gintaras Karosas’ grandfather retreated to the West and father Raimundas Karosas (born in 1928) was exiled by the Soviet occupants to Siberia, Komi oblast.
Gintaras Karosas was born on 25 June 1968 in Vilnius District. He started drawing in his early childhood and constructed an automobile some time later.
Gintaras’ artistic talent was discovered in his childhood. Starting from the fourth grade the young artist participated in exhibitions of young graphic artists of his school and the city. His favourite technique was Indian ink and a thin pen. Sometimes he took dozens of hours to complete a single piece. At the age of 10 the young artist had already developed his personal style; representatives of the arts world advised him against attending an art school so as to preserve his distinctive and original artistic expression.
After graduating from school and completing drawing training on his own, for two consecutive years Gintaras tried to join Vilnius Art Institute to study graphic arts, but he did not succeed. After the unsuccessful attempts he studied modelling and was admitted to Vilnius Art Institute (now Academy) to study the art of sculpture. In 1988 he graduated from Sculpture Department of Vilnius Art Academy.
Years of Change
At the age of 19 he felt an urge to use artistic language in order to give meaning to the centre of the European continent and Lithuania as the country in the centre of Europe by re-developing a plot of neglected forest in the vicinity of Vilnius into a park of sculptures, a space where nature, art and people from all over the World would come together. He had a vision of an integral nature and art ensemble, an open-air museum. In 1987, at the age of 19, Gintaras found a marshy piece of neglected forest in the northern part of Vilnius for the development of his new museum.
The first sponsors of Gintaras’ project were his parents. For several years he continued tidying-up the forest entirely on his own. Occasionally he invited his school friends to help. That’s how space for the first sculpture in Europos Parkas emerged; Symbol of Europos Parkas (1991) became the first sculpture cast by Karosas himself during his summer practice.
Gintaras came up with an idea of holding international sculpture symposia and inviting foreign sculptors to come and work in Lithuania. He applied for moral support (a letter of support) to the administration of the Art Academy but rather than getting the support he was subjected to hearings and agitations with the view to dissuade him from the idea of holding an international symposium. Gintaras refused to give up his activity; as a result, the project of his diploma work Monument of the Centre of Europe (later erected in Europos Parkas) received negative marks and the student was expelled. The sculptor graduated from Vilnius Art Academy after an interval of a few years.
Lithuania’s Identity. Europos Parkas
The first international sculpture symposium in Lithuania conceived by Gintaras was a success. After that, eleven international symposia, a number of plain-airs of young artists from post-communist European countries and other international events initiated by Gintaras Karosas followed. Thus, Lithuania acquired an image of a country situated in the geographical centre of Europe, and Europos Parkas is strongly linked to the history of our re-born nation in people’s minds worldwide. Presently, the 55 ha open-air museum is a collection of more than 100 pieces of art; it has become one of the places of interest that identifies Lithuania and receives many Lithuanian and foreign visitors. The museum is characterised by vitality because it is in a constant process of change and improvement.
Democratic Values and Public Interest
In the beginning of 1993 Gintaras Karosas established the Small Centre of Art, one of Lithuania’s first non-profit organisations. Back then, registration of the name Europos Parkas was not approved, but a year later the authorisation was granted. Many people tried to dissuade Gintaras Karosas from choosing the model of a non-governmental organisation at the time when the museum sector was being financed from the state budget alone. The artist, however, preferred not the easiest path, but the one that was a guarantee of democracy in the sphere of culture. Until the present day, the activities of the non-governmental and non-profit Europos Parkas museum receive no support from the state and are financed entirely from museum ticket sales, sponsors’ contributions and provision of services.
In 2002 politicians decided that forest parks that had become the favourite areas of the general public were to be returned in kind, privatised. The Government drafted the legislation necessary to deprive the areas of their distinctively public character. Many of the most picturesque areas of our country found themselves under threat of being parcelled out into lots and distributed. Gintaras Karosas rallied the public to resist the plan. Karosas initiated a campaign of signatures against privatisation of forest parks; more than thirty thousand signatures – a record number for that time, were collected in a brief space of a few days. Karosas addressed the Parliament before the crucial voting and the Seimas adopted a wise decision: it consented with the President’s veto and protected the public interest.
Litigation marathon that lasted nearly six years in which Gintaras Karosas sought to protect the integrity of Europos Parkas and save the open-air museum from destruction soon also came to an end. Justice prevailed because all court instances from the county court to the Constitutional Court conducted themselves in an honourable way and all claims to the territory of Europos Parkas were dismissed as invalid.
Fields of Creation
The creative work of Gintaras Karosas is very wide and diverse. There is a good reason why some art critics refer to Karosas as a man of Renaissance, while others call him a human orchestra. As a child, he was using Indian ink, watercolours and pencils; later, he used graphic etching technique.
Gintaras Karosas’ biggest creation is the huge landscape of the 55-hectare Europos Parkas that he continues to masterly model and polish in order to achieve unexpected consonances. The artist has accepted a kind of self-determination that his every creation will be displayed in Europos Parkas. Those who wish to see Karosas’ art have to visit Lithuania.
Karosas has created ten large-scale works of landscape art in Europos Parkas. One of his outstanding works is a piece of art constructed from old TV sets; Guinness World Records agency recognised it as a World record in 2000. Although a decade has passed since its creation, the sculpture made of TV sets still attracts a lot of attention worldwide.
Gintaras Karosas’ Monument of the Centre of Europe marks the centre of the European continent with directions and distances to European capitals. In 1993 Gintaras appealed to Prime Ministers of all European countries for support to the piece of art, thus drawing their attention to the Lithuanian state that had just restored its independence. In 2009 Karosas created The Sign (8.88 m.) to commemorate the millennium of Lithuania. Both pieces of art appear on a commemorative postcard (2003) and an envelope (2011) published by the Lithuanian Post.
Gintaras Karosas achieved his objective to bring art and architecture into a harmonious whole in the Education Centre of Europos Parkas, a building of sculptural architecture of his design. The structure, the roof of which is overgrown with grass, is in perfect harmony with nature and has become one of the exceptional examples of environmentally friendly architecture in Lithuania.
Other large-scale works by Karosas such as For Your Convenience, Foundations / Window, The Place, The Wall, Continuously Changing, From a Dream to the Present, Culture and others have also been harmoniously integrated into the environment.
The artist is also a photographer, he designs books and creates layouts. His photographs and artistic solutions are used in publications of the Europos Parkas museum, virtual environment and elsewhere.
Caring about Heritage. Liubavas
Among the projects conceived by Gintaras Karosas was preservation of the heritage and historic memory of Liubavas Estate. In 2008 he initiated the establishment of Liubavas museum in the windmill of an old estate nearby Europos Parkas. Over several years of comprehensive research of history and archaeology of the estate, technical equipment of the windmill and such, Liubavas windmill was renovated using EEA financial mechanism and turned from a dilapidated structure into a museum. The dream of Gintaras Karosas was that cultural heritage became a source of cognition for the public and was preserved for the future generations. Liubavas windmill-museum opened in the spring of 2011.
Purpose – Lithuania
Gintaras Karosas believes that the motive of his public activity lies in the knowledge that his work is meaningful because it is a contribution to Lithuania. The success of Lithuania depends exclusively from the attitude of its citizens and their focus on a common goal. If one believes wholeheartedly that his dreams are needed by his country, he can build a renowned Europos Parkas without access to funding. Gintaras Karosas is convinced that although the Lithuanian state has a wealth of intellectual and material resources, they are not used in a rational way; not much can be achieved as long as the public is not rallied to work towards a clear vision and has faith in a dream.
Prizes and Awards:
In 2006 Gintaras Karosas was awarded the National Prize of Culture Advancement for establishing the open-air Europos Parkas museum. This is part of a select group of national awards called the National Awards of Advancement, which are given to people, whose ideas, innovations and original solutions have contributed to positive changes and have propelled the quality of life in Lithuania and the country’s progress forward.
In 2005 for the achievements in development of the social infrastructure awarded 1st degree diploma and the statuette of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas, a prestigious award of Vilnius County's Governor Administration.
In 2001, for his initiative and creativity, the artist received the St Christopher’s statuette (a prestigious award in the city of Vilnius).
In 1995 Gintaras Karosas was among the top-twenty young people, selected by The Wall Street Journal, who had brought about important changes in Eastern and Central Europe.
The list of large scale sculptures and landscape artworks:
Landscape artwork Culture, created and built in 2009–2011, presented to the public in 2012, Europos Parkas
Landscape artwork The Wall, created and built in 2009–2010, Europos Parkas
Installation From a Dream to the Present, created and built in 2009, Europos Parkas
Landscape artwork The Sign (dedicated to the Millennium of Lithuania), created and built in 2008–2009, Europos Parkas
Landscape artwork Foundations / Window, created and built 2006, Europos Parkas
Sculptural architecture Education Centre, created and built in 2000–2006, Europos Parkas
Landscape artwork Continuously Changing, created and built in 2005, Europos Parkas
Landscape artwork The Place, created and built in 2001–2003, Europos Parkas
Landscape sculpture LNK Infotree (Guinness World Records has acknowledged the sculpture as the worlds’ largest artwork made of TV sets), created and built in 2000, Europos Parkas
Landscape artwork Four Your Convenience, created and built in 1997–1999, Europos Parkas
Environmental sculpture Monument of the Centre of Europe, created and built in 1993– 1996, Europos Parkas
Sculpture Symbol of Europos Parkas, created and built in 1991, the first sculpture in Europos Parkas
Other artistic and profesional activities:
In 2011 – presentations of 20 years’ Europos Parkas activities and newly created Liubavas museum to the public at the cultural events devoted to Europos Parkas 20th anniversary, organized by Lithuanian National Museum and Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania.
In 2008 – recreation and implementation of the restoration project of the landscape sculpture LNK Infotree using durable materials.
In 2005 – educational exhibition Gintaras Karosas’ House in Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome and educational activities (part of the international project Artists’ Houses ’05) and participation in group exhibition of six artists’ houses in Musei Civici di Regio Emilia, Regio Emilia, Italy.
In 2003 – winner of the competition of a design for stamped postcard organized by Lithuanian Post.
In 1987 started clearing wild neglected woodland and creating Europos Parkas.
In 1986–1987 – 7 personal exhibitions of graphics in Vilnius and Kaunas.
Gintaras Karosas. LIUBAVAS. – Vilnius [Joneikiškės, Vilniaus r.]: Europos parkas, 2010. – 272 p. illustr., text in Lithuanian and English, ISBN 978-9955-9763-4-9
Gintaras Karosas. EUROPOS PARKAS. (Gintaras Karosas. Kūryba / Artwork Europos Parkas) [photography album]– Vilnius [Joneikiškės, Vilniaus r.]: Europos parkas, 2010. – 352 p. illustr., text in Lithuanian and English, ISBN 978-9955-9763-5-6.
Gintaras Karosas. Europos parkas 2009: From a Dream to the Present. – Vilnius [Joneikiškės, Vilniaus r.]: Europos parkas, 2009. – 24 p. illustr., text in Lithuanian and English, ISBN 978-9955-9763-2-5.
Europos parko gidas. Europos Parkas guide. – Vilnius [Joneikiškės, Vilniaus r.] : Europos parkas, 2007 / [compiled by Gintaras Karosas] 120 p., illustr., portr., text in Lithuanian and English, ISBN 978-9955-9763-1-8.
Gintaras Karosas ir/and Europos parkas. – Vilnius [Joneikiškės, Vilniaus r.]: Europos parkas, 2005, – 24 p., illustr., text in Lithuanian and English, Aut.: Magdalena Abakanowicz, Gintaras Karosas, Laima Kreivytė, Benjamin Smith, Rokas M. Tracevskis, Joyce Ellen Weinstein. Compiled by Gintaras Karosas. ISBN: 9955-9763-0-6.
Virtuali kelionė po Europos parką. – Vilnius [Joneikiškės, Vilniaus r.]: Europos parkas, 2004. – 1 CD-ROM, Authors: Gintaras Karosas, Algirdas Tarvydas, Audrė Kudabienė, Gintaras Kudaba, Fiodor Čerednik. Compiled by Gintaras Karosas.
Conceived the idea of Europos Parkas as a symbolic space for coexistance and representation of different cultures in the geographic Centre of Europe and turned it into reality (1991 – present).
Initiated and leaded the project Restoration of Liubavas Manor Watermill and its Adaptation to Cultural and Public Needs that has been supported by a grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Financial Mechanism and co-financed by the Republic of Lithuania (2008–2011).
Participated as artist in the international art education projects DIDART supported by EU Programme Culture 2000 and organized projects’ activities in Lithuania (2004–2005). Initiated and organized the project BSR Museums Co-operation: Tourism and Education that has been granted by EU PHARE 2001 Programme in the Baltic Sea Region (2004).
Conceived, organized, participated and curated twelve International Sculpture Symposiums in Europos Parkas (1993 – 2003).
Conceived, organized and curated the Plainair of Young Artists from Central Europe (1998, 2000, 2001, 2002).
Restoration of Liubavas Manor Watermill and its adaptation to the museum in Lithuania European Heritage Congress, 29 May – 2 June 2012 Lisbon, Portugal.
The challenging establishment of Europos Parkas, Lithuania’s first non-governmental museum Scientific Conference „Lithuanian Museums: from Dionizas Poška’s Bitterns to The Palace of Grand Dukes“ 18 May, 2012 Vilnius.
Restoration of Liubavas Manor Watermill and its Adaptation to Cultural and Public Needs. Respublican seminar for heritage specialists, 2011 Kaunas.
Revival of Liubavas Manor Watermill: Experience of Establishing of a New Museum. Association of Lithuanian Museums, The 14th Scientific Conference „Modern Museum Communication: Traditions and Innovations“, 2011 Vilnius.
Architecture and Art of Liubavas Manor. Final seminar of the Restoration of Liubavas Manor Watermill and its Adaptation to Cultural and Public Needs project, 2011 Liubavas, Vilnius r.
Artists Houses’05. Europos Parkas experience. International conference DIDART, 2005 Reggio Emilia, Italy.
Experiences of Europos Parkas. Conference Cultural Tourism, 2004 Kaunas, Lithuania.
Europos Parkas educational projects. International seminar BSR Museums Co-operation: tourism and education, 2004 Europos Parkas, Lithuania.
Europos Parkas – realization of artistic idea. Conference Parks and Gardens Routes: Experience and European Projects, 2002 Palanga, Lithuania.
Sculpture in forest park (Europos Parkas example). Conference The present and future of Lithuanian landscape architecture, 2000 Vilnius, Lithuania.
Selected articles about creative and public activities:
Laima Kreivytė. Istorija fotografijose. Europos parkui – 20 metų// 7 meno dienos,
Vykintė Budrytė. Meno kūrinius saugo miško dvasios// Lietuvos rytas, 7 Oct.
Pukštaitė L. Nuo Europos parko įkūrimo praėjus dvidešimtmečiui, Gintaras Karosas pristato Liubavo dvaro muziejų// Europos ritmu, 2011, Nr. 2 (11).
Liutauras Nekrošius. Art Forest in the Centre of Europe// Project Baltia, 2010,
Willi Winkler. Wo der Wolf begraben liegt// Frankfurter Allgemeine
Eva Ceginskas Björkman, Kajsa Haglund. Europos Parkas – en skulpturpark mitt i
Europa// Bildkonstnären, 2001, No.4.
Silvia Vanossi Este. Europos Parkas. Un Meseo di sculptura nella foresta
lituana//Alavnotizie, Nov. 2000.