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Vaclovas Rataiskis-Ratas was born in Paseire village, Leipalingis district of the Lazdijai county, Lithuania, on February 25, 1910. There his grandfather and then his father owned a water mill, well known at that time. In 1999, a memorial plaque in honor of the artist was attached to the house in which he was born. He was the first of four children. Already at 10 years of age, Vaclovas showed a considerable talent for drawing. He studied graphic art at the National Art School in Kaunas, graduating in 1935. He also studied art in Germany and Italy.
Soon after graduation, Vaclovas started participating in art exhibitions in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. In 1935, he participated in an exhibition of Lithuanian graphic art in Kosice, Czechoslovakia. At the International Art Exhibition in Paris in 1937, Vaclovas was awarded the Prix d'Honeur for his woodcut illustrations of Jurate and Kastytis, a ballad by the Lithuanian poet Maironis. The same year he participated in an international exhibition of lithography and woodcuts in Chicago.
In 1937, Vaclovas became the curator of art at the Ciurlionis Gallery of the Cultural Museum of Vytautas the Great in Kaunas. He continued in this capacity until 1944, when he moved with his wife Regina and daughter Ramona to Vienna, Austria. After the war, they relocated to Augsburg, Germany, where Vaclovas started his own art school. He was also invited to teach at the Internation Arts Academy in Munich.
While residing in Germany, Vaclovas participated in the International Graphic and Book Exhibition in Belgium and, in 1949, with three other Lithuanian artists, Paulius Augius, Telesforas Valius and Viktoras Petravicius, published two books - 40 Woodcuts and The Twelve Ravens.
In 1949, Vaclovas and his family migrated to Perth, Australia, relocating to Sydney in 1954. In Sydney, he helped organize the first Australian graphic arts exhibition and the Sydney Printmakers Association. In 1967 he edited the publication Eleven Lithuanian Artists in Australia and in 1970 illustrated the book The Mountain Devil by Agne Luksyte. His new surroundings had a major affect of his art, his style became colorful and joyful.
In 1966, Vaclovas was diagnosed with leukemia. His daughter Ramona took a leave of absence from touring with the Australian Ballet and took some of his work to America, where she mounted successful solo exhibitions on his behalf in New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. After seven years of declining health Vaclovas died on January 3, 1973, in Telopea, Sydney, Australia. An artist of diverse talents, including pottery and ceramics, he is principally remembered today as a printmaker, who excelled in traditional techniques and constantly experimented with new materials and methods, helping to shape the visual arts in Australia. His work is represented in Australian and Lithuanian State Art Collections, as well as internationally.
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