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J. Tarabilda, “No Walls”. Photo: Laimonas Ciunys

Artagonist – a Vilnius hotel featuring contemporary Lithuanian art 0

A Vilnius building that belonged to the Freemasons in the 15th century, and which over the next five centuries endured and survived numerous fires, not to mention a slew of alterations dictated by the changing aesthetics of successive eras, has yet again been freshly refurbished to fit the needs of the 21st century. Located on one of the neighborhood’s main streets, which sees daily traffic from both locals and tourists who’ve come to see the city’s historical UNESCO gems, the venerable building is now home to a hotel. The hotel has been designed with the main amenities that today’s discerning guests expect – a breakfast made with pure and healthy ingredients, exceptional beds, fast and free Wifi, and culture; but in this case, the latter is an outright art experience.

J. Tarabilda’s wall painting “Touch Me”, made as an interpretation of the fresco painting “The Creation of Adam” by Michelangelo. Photo: Laimonas Ciunys

As Swedish art curator Sune Nordgren, who has worked on several notable art hotels in Norway, once said in an interview with “Art has the ability to influence the atmosphere of the hotel significantly. The visitors arrive at the hotel and they find themselves almost as if in a museum. [..] If you have art in a hotel, it should be of a very high standard and of high quality and really sticking out – and perhaps, even challenging the guests about the way they will remember the hotel.”

One can’t help but notice that the name of the hotel – Artagonist – already contains an allusion to challenging the mediocrity of daily life with the aid of an arsenal of art. Artagonist has been created as a contemporary art hotel filled with works specially made by Lithuanian artists for the hotel’s collection. Throughout the hotel’s thirty-four uniquely different rooms, focus has been placed upon artworks done in the genres of sculpture, installation, textile art, and painting.

“Teddy Bear” by V. Šimoliūnaitė and R. Šimoliūnienė, in Room 302, invites guests to return to their childhoods. Photo: Laimonas Ciunys

However, in the hotel’s public spaces (reception, lobby bar, breakfast room), wall murals have been made the main accent. Thestand-out here is the work “No Walls”, by J. Tarabilda, in the reception area – spanning the height of the hotel’s atrium, it surprises by continuing all the way down to the basement-level restaurant in the form of a man’s legs with rolled-up jeans and sneakered feet. In a sense, it’s an interpretation of the Antagonist hotel itself as guests are greeted by this rebellious, slightly hipsterish figure with naively romantic tattoos.

“The Secret” by V. Viržbickas and I. Rojūtė in Room 201. Every piece of glass artwork installed on the wall contains a separate hidden story that draws guests to take a closer look. Photo: Laimonas Ciunys

“The Nest” by Nerijus Erminas Photo: Laimonas Ciunys

“The Geometry of Love” by V. Šimoliūnaite and R. Šimoliūniene.  Photo: Laimonas Ciunys

“The Production of Spongebob Squarepants” by A. Kavaliauskas. Photo: Laimonas Ciunys

“Red Lips” by K. Ališauskaitė. Photo: Laimonas Ciunys

“Bedroom Shelf” by G. Šermukšnytė. Photo: Laimonas Ciunys

“Dream Keepers” by V. Šimoliūnaite and R. Šimoliūniene. Photo: Laimonas Ciunys

“The Grass Snake” by V. Šimoliūnaite and R. Šimoliūniene. Photo: Laimonas Ciunys

Pilies g. 34, Vilnius