22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Lina Itagaki

Portrait Lina Itagaki
© Denise Dahmer

Lina Itagaki was born in 1979 in Kaunas, Lithuania. From 1997 to 1999 she studied English and literature at Vytautas Magnus University, then went to Japan and studied international economics in Tokyo until 2003. From 2005 to 2010 she worked at the Lithuanian branch office (TECMO KOEI Baltija) of the Japanese video games TECMO KOEI company in Vilnius as assistant manager and Japanese language translator. From 2010 she studied at the Vilnius Art Academy and received a bachelor’s degree in graphic art in 2014.

In 2017, together with the Lithuanian author and translator Jurga Vilė, she published her first graphic novel »Sibiro Haiku« (tr: Siberian Haiku), which won the grand prize at the book art competition in Lithuania and was voted the most beautiful book of 2017. The theme is the deportation of Lithuanians during the Soviet era, which also affected Itagaki’s grandfather. It took Itagaki about nine months to illustrate the story with the help of the author’s old family photos as well as other sources about life in Siberia. The subject of deportation is told on the basis of a specific family history: One day in 1941, a Lithuanian family was driven to the railway station by Russian soldiers and then deported to Siberia with many other families. There they live under difficult conditions, but an aunt has taken along a Japanese book of haikus with which she tries to make her environment a bit more cheerful. In the images, Itagaki also shows the few happy childhood moments in exile and alleviates the harshness and cruelty of the events with pastel colors.

The illustrator received awards for her artistic work at the 2015 Illustration and Books book art exhibition in Vilnius and at the 2015 COW International Design Festival Illustration in Ukraine. She participated in the project »Drawing the XXth Century. Comics on Lithuanian, Belarusian and German Family Stories« by Mawil, which was presented at the 2017 Comic Invasion Berlin. One of her comics was also published in the anthology »Redrawing Stories from the Past II« (2018), a project by comic artist Sascha Hommer and theorist Ole Frahm, the second part of which is devoted to migration and exile movements in Europe after the Second World War. Itagaki regularly participates in group exhibitions in Lithuania and abroad. She currently works as a freelance illustrator and designer, e.g. for the Klaipėda puppet theater, and works in the field of communication for the Klaipėda faculty at the Vilnius Academy of Arts. She lives in Vilnius and is working on new children’s book and comic projects.