Vilnius 700 Celebrated in Paris

Iron Wolf exhibition in Paris / L. Segers

The Iron Wolf exhibition, dedicated to the 700th anniversary of Vilnius, opened in Paris on March 9, writes  Featuring some of Lithuania’s most prominent contemporary visual artists, it coincided with celebrations of Lithuania’s Restoration of Independence. The exhibition is curated by art critic Julija Palmeirao in cooperation with the gallery “Menų tiltas”, and the Lithuanian Embassy in Paris.

The iron wolf is an iconic image reflecting the legend of the founding of Vilnius by Grand Duke Gediminas. Palmeirao described the mythical image of a wolf as a metaphor for the birth of an idea, symbolizing loyalty, fellowship, family, and friendship. The famous French art critic Christian Noorbergen praised the enormous creative output of Lithuania in the field of contemporary art.

The Iron Wolf exhibition in the Commines art space exhibits works in a wide variety of visual arts: sculptures by Mykolas Sauka, Nerijus Erminas, and Audra Vau, paintings by Vilmantas Marcinkevičius, Linas Jusionis, Andrius Zakarauskas, Vytenis Lingys, Meda Norbutaitė, and Patricija Jurkšaitytė, photography by Antanas Sutkus and Imantas Selenis, as well as graphic works by Eglė Kuckaitė.

The exhibition will run until March 20. On March 15, Inga Galinytė’s performance “Bad Dream” in support of Ukraine will take place at the exhibition space, and on March 19, Jurga Zabukaitė’s short film “Room for yourself” will be screened during the day.

The legend of Vilnius is well-known by most Lithuanians. To refresh our memory, the Vilnius Historic Centre in Lithuania presents it as follows: Centuries ago Grand Duke Gediminas, was on a hunting trip in the forests of Šventaragis valley around the mouth of the River Vilnia. When night fell, the party, feeling tired after a long and successful hunt, decided to set up camp and spend the night there. While he was asleep, Gediminas had an unusual dream in which he saw an iron wolf at the top of the mountain where he had killed an European bison that day. The iron wolf was standing on the top of a hill with its head raised proudly towards the moon, howling as loud as a hundred wolves. Awakened by the rays of the rising sun, Gediminas remembered his strange dream and consulted the pagan priest Lizdeika about it. He told the Grand Duke that the dream was a direction to found a city among these hills. The howling of the wolf, explained the priest, represented the fame of the future city: that city will be the capital of Lithuanian lands, and its reputation would spread far and wide, as far as the howling of the mysterious wolf…

So the Grand Duke Gediminas, obeying the will of the gods, immediately started to build the future capital which took the name of Vilnius – from the stream of the rapid River Vilnia. He built a fortress on the hill and the city of Vilnius grew up around it.