The James Gleeson oral history collection

James Gleeson interviews Australia's major artists

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Vincas Jomantas
Awakening of giants I (1967)
Sculpture, hardwood, wax, epoxy resin filler
pigmented in three colours, carving
126.0 h x 134.5 w x 84.0 d
more detail

Vincent Jomantas

15 October 1979 [unknown location]

James Gleeson: Awakening of the Giants was a theme of a whole exhibition I remember, wasn’t it, or you did a number of works?

Vincent Jomantas: Well that was one, there was two versions there, and a third one came later on, you know.

James Gleeson: Did you have any sort of literary idea behind that, The Giants, what were they?

VincentJomantas: No, well, as a matter of fact it’s very sort of powerful moving forms, separate forms. They again started with a drawing, that’s nothing to do with the drawing, I mean it cannot relate to the drawing but I did make some drawing, fairly large ones, might be up to four, six feet long, and it was like a landscape with like huge snakes coming out from it.

James Gleeson: I see.

VincentJomantas: That’s prompted me to explore that element of the shapes of forms. They been rather threatening, that was appeared in the drawing, and therefore maybe labelled them as Awakening of Giants.

James Gleeson: They are certainly one of the most striking of all the forms I think you’ve invented, and certainly they’ve stayed in my mind as one of the most—

VincentJomantas: Yes, I was quite happy about that. I mean, I really was moved, did have a lot of enthusiasm and that. But as I say it started from the drawing, but I wanted to leave drawing as a drawing. Of course it’s entirely different. It changed; it’s nothing to it.

James Gleeson: Well now the last of the sequence is, apart from the screen, which is still in process, is this work, The Princess in bronze of 1972, four pieces on a painted wooden base.

VincentJomantas: Yes. Well that’s three elements, three elements in it, and it’s one I would say like a bull or a bison, one represents the bird, and one represents the turtle.

James Gleeson: I see—the turtle, the bird and the bison.

VincentJomantas: Yes, and they are very noble and that’s maybe going back in Lithuanian folklore or something like that.

James Gleeson: I see.

VincentJomantas: I mean, don’t regard them as animals, regard them as something about that.

James Gleeson: Yes.

VincentJomantas: That is a gathering of those people, of personalities, or what you can call in a way, and they present certain qualities maybe of a human race in a way.

James Gleeson: Yes, yes.

VincentJomantas: If you know about qualities of the bird and why we admiring birds, we know why we admiring centaurs, bisons, or something like that.

James Gleeson: Yes, yes.

VincentJomantas: We know it’s qualities of the turtle. That is serpent too.

James Gleeson: I see, a central piece, yes.

VincentJomantas: Yes, and serpent too, it belongs to it. That is a kingdom of—

James Gleeson: Forces or powers.

VincentJomantas: Yes, but presented by animals. Why should it be presented by human beings?

James Gleeson: Were all the elements, and there seem to be four of them rather than three—

VincentJomantas: Yes, four.

James Gleeson: Cast in bronze, separately?

VincentJomantas: Yes, this is cast separately.

James Gleeson: Then imbedded in the wooden base.

VincentJomantas: No, they can be placed very—

James Gleeson: Oh, I see. Just placed on the wooden base.

VincentJomantas: That is wooden base is to some extent just for exhibition purposes.

James Gleeson: Oh, I see. It’s just a stand.

VincentJomantas: They could be placed on any slab of the stone or something even look better.

James Gleeson: Yes.

VincentJomantas: But it’s how to handle them you know, in display and they are not very small and that base is all right, but it could be placed anywhere. You know it’s not need to have the base for it. But it’s placing is indicated, but that is the general idea of it. I am quite happy about this work.

James Gleeson: I think it’s a great work.

VincentJomantas: Yes. I am quite happy about it.

James Gleeson: Well, Vincent, we won’t talk about the screen now, because that’s still in process and we’ll come back to you about that. I think we’ll leave it at that at the moment, and come back to you at some future time to talk about the screen and the grill that you’re doing for the National Gallery.

VincentJomantas: Most welcome.

James Gleeson: Thank you very much indeed.


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