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Inspired by Eucalyptus

On January 6, 2023, an exhibition of Alisa Palavenis’ latest paintings “Inspired by Eucalyptus” was opened at the Panevezys County Gabriele Petkevicaite-Bite Public Library, Panevezys, Lithuania.

Moments from the opening of the painting exhibition “Inspired by Eucalyptus”

Photos by Gintaras Lukoševičius

*The artist Alisa Palavenis does not support the consumption of alcohol. That is why only non-alcoholic wine was served during the opening event. However, it was not an obstacle for the guests to spend a great time in the artistic and warm atmosphere.

What is the relationship between the collective cultural consciousness and the independent feeling of the creator? Alisa Palavenis, the author of the painting exhibition “Inspired by Eucalyptus,” answers this question.

The leitmotif of the paintings presented in the exhibition is the eucalyptus tree. The creator, who has a formal education as a chemist and pharmacist, often encountered a preparation in her professional activities during the trip, unexpectedly revealed to her something else – in the form of a flowering tree that stimulates emotions and creativity. By juxtapositioning the images of a pragmatic medicinal plant that eases breathing and a powerhouse that vivifies emotional inspiration, the author discovers a new, intuitively creative way to show reality. The recurring form of the eucalyptus motive in the paintings is like a character jumping from canvas to canvas – an avatar of the artist’s personal experiences.

Bloom. Hommage à Jackson Pollock.Mixed media on canvas: acrylics, oil. 70.0 x 90.0 cm. January 2022

A. Palavenis also creates articles in which she studies biographies and the creative lives of the artists of the past. Accordingly, the eucalyptus tree, a symbol of her creative expression, travels through the images of various creators.

With her tendency to use the aesthetics of the most famous creators of modern art, A. Palavenis’ paintings are reminiscent of the photographs of the postmodern creator Cindy Sherman (b. 1954), in which the artist disappears under the costumes and masks of famous or stereotypical women. However, as in C. Sherman’s works, A. Palavenis’ postmodern interpretations of artistic expression are not a simple carnival or imitation. On the contrary, they are a meditation on what is needed so that your aesthetic expression becomes part of the lexicon of collective culture. It is a virtual experience to imagine your works becoming a part of the collective cultural consciousness.

A la “In the Studio”. This work follows the idea of Roy Lichtenstein’s “In the studio”, where he includes “ La Dance” by Matisse as a wall décor and the self-portrait of Tamara de Lempicka. Mixed media on canvas: acrylics, oil. 50.0 x 70.0 cm. January 2022

A. Palavenis inspires by the painting or graphic styles of cultural icons, such as Gustav Klimt, Tamara de Lempicka, George Seurat, Andy Warhol, Max Ernst, Jackson Pollock, Odilon Redon, Frida Kahlo, Pablo Picasso, and Banksy. However, nowadays, their stylistics is no longer “theirs” but universal. As the collective culture took over their sensibilities, the content of the paintings faded away, leaving only a way to see and convey the world as these creators did.

Every Cubist composition has become a “Picasso” in common parlance, and the stylistics of the other artists mentioned have also become used almost as an Instagram filter in widespread “in the style of” imitations. Their stylistics serves as an indexical sign that gives the art audience advance indications as to which value matrix the surface aesthetics visible in the painting is associated with.

I’m free, living in the apartment. Hommage à Pablo Picasso. Oil on canvas. 50.0 x 70.0 cm. September 2021

A. Palaveni’s character – Eucalyptus – also transforms depending on each of these filters. These works raise a question, which nature of the plant each of the artists would choose to reveal? How would they react if the eucalyptus character appeared in their field of vision? As art perceivers, we enjoy imagining how artists of the past would interpret the Eucalyptus theme. We may imagine how the mosaic ornamentation of tree bark would influence Klimt. Tamara de Lempicka would probably see the proto-feminist power of Eucalyptus to transform a woman through cosmetics. Seurat would look for shimmer in it. Warhol would seek for the “realness” and artificiality of the fashion accessory at the same time, Ernst – for a kind of chilling undertones, Pollock – for exploding colors, Redon – for archetypality, Frida Kahlo- for the power to absorb nature as part of one’s personality, Picasso – for contemplative structures, and Banksy – for current global problems.

Fashion spring. In the World of Manikins. Hommage à Andy Warhol. Mixed media: acrylics on photo image, offset paper. 32.0 x 45.0 cm. February 2022

Icons – including cultural ones – are relevant only as long as they are visited, as long as they are invited and included in personal experiences, and this case – the painting of A. Palavenis. By creating an imaginary voice of world painters on a new topic, A. Palavenis transforms and deepens her creative vision and perception.

My Curly Head. Hommage à Odilon Redon. Mixed media on canvas: acrylics, oil, real gold dust. 50.0 x 70.0 cm. December 2021

A. Palavenis’ exhibition is a bridge to the past – an excursion to find creators who once lived and operated with similar thoughts and led society’s collective thinking in different, unexpected turns. At the same time, it is a bridge to the future – the novice painter’s reflections on what it means to create her artistic language are the first steps of her creative path.

By art critic Gytis Oržikauskas

Translation from Lithuanian by Dr. Alisa Palavenis, text source:

The author about her painting exhibition “Insired by Eucalyptus”

How do arts sprout in the thicket of exact sciences? My story may seem a bit naïve, but on the other hand, it should inspire every ordinary person to open up, to let a little miracle into their world.

“In the summer of 2019, I discovered a eucalyptus alley on a small French island. As a pharmacist, this was a world-changing discovery for me. Listen, it turns out that eucalyptus is not just an essential oil for cough inhalations or crushed pieces of dry matter in a cardboard package! These are tall trees with graceful elongated leaves! After the trip, I learned (already from the Internet) that the eucalyptus blooms beautifully in the spring. I imagined myself in that avenue of eucalyptus trees, walking around the magical trees in bloom. It was o good dose of ecstasy for the brain. It shattered my entire rigid, science-based world. Eucalyptus freed me from me, opened a new era of life”.

With this creative project, I aim to learn and draw inspiration from masters of painting, but the narrative comes from my imagination and modern interpretations.

I am a pharmacist, scientist, and developer. Aside from one year at art school over 20 years ago, I was self-taught in arts. From 2019 I attended private and group classes of Lithuanian and Polish artists, academic drawing, and stained glass courses at the Vilnius Art Academy. I also participate in national and international competitions.

When creating, I choose realistic representation, occasionally – abstraction. Lush bright colors dominate, experiments with the texture of the canvas, and reliefs give my paintings a subtle 3D effect. No matter what the creator’s message is, the primary role of art is to spread beauty and harmony, distract from dreary everyday life and gray thoughts, and sometimes even give wings.

“Inspired by Eucalyptus” is my third art exhibition.

Besides art, I have more activities and hobbies. I have published three books: two cookbooks and one book about plastic pollution. My eco photo exhibition “Take it up or leave it – nobody’s rubbish in nature” was exhibited in the Seimas and is still on tour around Lithuanian educational institutions, business centers, and organizations.

Images of pictures by Dr. Alisa Palavenis / IG @artzagorska


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