LETTERKENNY artists Mantas Poderys has won the prestigious KPMG Award as Royal Ulster Academy Young Artist of the Year 2020.
The award comes eleven years after Mantas (28) won the overall prize in the Texaco Children’s competition with oil painted self-portraits in 2009.
It was another series of self-portraits that secured this latest award for Mantas who has been creating work throughout Europe since graduating from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin.
Speaking to the Donegal News from his studio in Letterkenny, Mantas said that he was excited to win the award.
“When I was 18, I produced a series of five portraits reflecting a movement of images of me then which won the Texaco Art competition overall prize. Ten years on I have decided to look at producing a new self portrait. This new self portrait focuses on the light and shadows and captures the honesty and presence of myself at the age of 28,” he said.
“They’re made with pastels. I build up layers of pastels gently until I achieve the final effect that I’m looking for. There’s definitely the beginning of laughter lines starting to show now,” he said.
The RUA Annual Exhibition is one of the most eagerly anticipated exhibitions in the Northern Irish cultural calendar, providing a unique platform for acclaimed artists and emerging talent to showcase their artwork in the various galleries at the Ulster Museum.
A native of Lithuania, Mantas moved to Letterkenny with his family in 2004. He attended Errigal College before moving to St Eunan’s College. He was a student in the North West Regional College in Derry and then the National College of Art and Design in Dublin. He also spent a year in America as an exchange student at the Museum of Fine Art.
“I did a bit of hitch-hiking through Europe after college but I’m now a full-time artist. I’m fully focused on art and using archival materials to make professional portraits.
“I’m indebted to Donal O’Gallchoir for letting me use space as a studio in Letterkenny. I’m currently working on a private commission for the Daly/MacGabhanns. It’s a wonderful experience to be working with them and creating something special for their family.” he said.
This time last year he held a pop-up exhibition in the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny.
“That gave me the opportunity to be in an environment where I met people, which was great, but I’m so blessed to have this studio space. I’m working on larger scale pieces and I now have the space to stand back and really experience what I am doing,” he said.
Last month, another young budding Letterkenny artist won a prize in the Texaco Children’s competition under the tutelage of Mantas Poderys.
In the 14-15 age category, PJ Doherty (15), St Eunan’s College won first prize for his self-portrait.
“I guided and encouraged him to enter that piece into the competition. PJ’s work has potential and I’m sure we will be hearing a lot about him in the future,” Mantas said.
“I know that winning the Texaco competition gave me confidence in my work and I’m sure it will be the same for him,” he added.