Samuelis Bakas Named Honorary Citizen of Vilnius

Vilnius recently bestowed the distinction of honorary citizen upon renowned Litvak painter Samuelis Bakas. The selection of Mr Bakas marks the 15th time Vilnius has named an honorary citizen. The distinction is awarded to individuals of special merit who, through their work and actions, have made significant contributions to both Vilnius and Lithuania. The Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum submitted the initial nomination for Mr Bakas’ honorary citizenship, and is pleased to see him receive this distinction. Samuelis Bakas plans to come to Vilnius this year, and intends to mark his visit by offering the City of Vilnius more than 100 of his works.

The painter was born in Vilnius on 12 August 1933. At the age of 9, Bakas and his parents were forced into one of the Vilnius ghettos where the artist first exhibited a collection of drawings. From 1945, Mr Bakas lived in a camp for displaced persons in Germany where he also painted, and in 1948 he emigrated to Israel, later living in France, Italy, and Switzerland before settling in Weston Massachusetts, USA in 1993.

Since 1959, Samuelis Bakas’ work has been exhibited in galleries and museums in cities across the globe, including Rome, Paris, Montreal, London, and Jerusalem. The artist’s first exhibition in Vilnius took place in 2001. Mr Bakas also has an honorary Doctorate’s Degree in Fine Arts from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

Though Samuelis Bakas’ prominence as a painter has led him to become a citizen of the world, he has never forgotten his native Vilnius, nor have his experiences of the city and his creative ventures here left him. The artist’s authentic style is characterised by details of perfect renaissance figures and metaphysical spaces, as well as his unique interpretation of iconography and symbolism.

Other notable individuals to have received the distinction of Vilnius honorary citizens include Ronald Reagan, Jon Baldwin Hannibalsson, Mstislav Rostropovich, Dennis Haster, Czeslaw Milosz, and Shimon Peres.