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The beginning was a Portrait.

Article in Herning Folkeblad Saturday 31 July 2010.

By Marianne R. Eskildsen Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Photo: Tom Laursen Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Elisabeth and Dennis

”The happy lady” is the title at this painting. While Elisabeth was teaching, she brought the pupils home to study the painting, because it was interesting to hear, what thoughts it gave to them.

Dennis and Elisabeth Nande are more than usually enthusiastic about the Lithuanian artist Vilmantas.


It is an overwhelming and colorful experience to visit Dennis and Elisabeth Nande in their big brown villa from 1970 in Gjellerup. Wherever the eye falls, the walls are covered with paintings by Lithuanian artist Vilmantas Marcinkevicius.


More than two hundred works of art that can be seen among a selection of sculptures and paintings by several other well-known Lithuanian artists. One of the main rooms are designed exclusively to fit the artist's paintings. Here sits Dennis and Elisabeth Nande often early in the morning in the Borge Mogensen-sofa and plan the jobs of the day.

It is inspiring to enjoy views of the garden and Vilmantas' paintings at the same time, they claim. – "It's like with music. It speaks to the emotions, "says Dennis Nande. It is also in this room, we sit by the white Piet Hein-table painted by Vilmantas with bright pastel colors. One of the white Philippe Starck chairs have the same design on the backrest. But only one of them. "Otherwise it would be too much, "says Elisabeth Nande. Vilmantas have painted it during one of his now numerous visits in Gjellerup.


Strangely violent


Dennis and Elisabeth Nande have met Vilmantas in the midle of the nineties. Dennis Nande taught at Herning HF & VUC and Elisabeth Nande at the teachers training school in Herning.


In 1994, said Dennis Nande yes to go to Lithuania to teach the use of computers in education, and more projects followed. Two years later the Ministry of Education employed him to a larger project, which meant that he should move to Lithuania for a minimum of one year.


"Besides being a skill full artist,
Vilmantas is also
a warm human being.
He is so incredibly nice.
He is almost as
a sort of son to us"
Dennis Nande


The project was to contribute to Lithuania’s democratization process. - It was an old system they had, where independent thinking was forbidden. Everybody were waiting for orders from the top. Nobody took initiatives themselves. The focus in my project was students' own thinking, creativity and critical thinking together with the same for teachers and headmasters. Initiatives from students, teachers and leaders should be rewarded and not punished, but create a fruitful collaboration, manners and skills that would be good for work and business in a free world, Dennis Nande told.


But a year can be a long time when one misses his wife, so Dennis Nande decided to get painted a portrait of Elisabeth to tell her that he loved her. In Lithuania, he had seen a portrait of a friend's wife, who Vilmantas had painted, so he and Elisabeth Nande visited Vilmantas in a small apartment, there was so dark, that Elisabeth Nande unfortunately steped at his dog. When they left the flat, they thought that it was some weird violent paintings, they had seen. But they had agreed that he should make a portrait of Elisabeth in a room at the art academy. In the five days it took was two freshly painted paintings put to dry on the floor and those fall the couple in love with. - They were more nice than the ones we previously had seen, "says Dennis Nande. They were bought together with the portrait of Elizabeth. And then everything were speeded up.


Nearly as a son

Dennis and Elisabeth
The Portrait of Elisabeth, which started everything. It is painted in 1997. (Photo: Tom Lauersen)

Although the couple never before had been interested in the arts, theywere now virtually hooked by Vilmantas' paintings. Dennis Nande became even a well-known person in Karup Airport, because he always had his hands full of Vilmantas' paintings on the way to Denmark. Even Elisabeth Nande was known on the route. One day she was to board the flight, a stranger to her suddenly turned to her and said: "You must be Dennis Nande's wife '. - He had seen a large portrait photography of me at my husbands flat in Vilnius, says Elisabeth Nande, who was ready to move old paintings to new places to make room for the new ones, every time her husbon came home with a lot of new ones from Lithuania.


Dennis Nande was working in Lithuania from 1996 to year 2000, but even when he stopped working there he continued visiting Vilmantas in Lithuania and to buy art there.


Besides being a skill full artist, Vilmantas is also a warm human being. He is so incredibly nice. He is almost as a sort of son to us', and he has stayed in our house several times also with his wife and children Dennis Nande tells.


When Vilmantas is visiting the couple in Gjellerup, he often brings one of his artist-friends. They have put a trace through the Nande-home, where some incredible wooden sculptures, par example a woodcut of the Earth with feet, has got a good place: “Expulsion from Eden” by Alius Berdencovas.


Open House

Twice a year Elisabeth and Dennis invites friends and acquaintances. They want that as many as possible will know about Vilmantas and his art, so they open their home for other people with an interest for art and and fans of Vilmantas. Just now they think how they can do even more people can get the joy of their collection.


All in all they now have around 10 different Lithuanian artists represented In their home. They have met all of them in person, because they only buy works from artists they know by themselves, but it is as much to show Vilmantas’ works in the connection he is brought up with.


What do his works mean to you?


- Everything, Elisabeth Nande replies without hesitating. – We are looking at them from morning to night. I am happy every morning to wake up with them she tells referring to a big painting with a wonderful buxom woman she wakes up to every morning.


Elisabeth and Dennis Nande are not the only ones, who are enthusiastic about Vilmantas’ paintings. He has been named as the best artist in his homeland in 2009, and another important step was that he was selected to paint an official portrait of the former princess Alexandra and His Royal Highness Prince Joachim in 2004, so a lot of important people have now got opened their eyes for his art. It is what Elisabeth and Dennis Nande wants many more people to get.


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