Andris Breže : Andris Breže (1958) graduated from the Art Academy of Latvia’s Design (formerly Industrial Art) Department. He has participated in exhibitions since 1977. He was one of the members of the group of Supergraphic Artists who created expressive works of graphic art in the 1980s in the medium of large format screen printing.
He was nominated for the Purvītis Prize for his most recent personal show “A Life of Peace” (Galerija Alma, 2013). Under the pseudonym Andris Žebers, Breže has published three collections of poems: “Tattoos” (Liesma, 1988) and together “Vodkas/Side Effects” (Neputns, 2007). For these, he received the Klāvs Elsbergs Prize for best debut, the Aleksandrs Čaks Prize and the Annual Literature Prize for the year’s best collection of poems.
Krišs Salmanis : Krišs Salmanis (1977) studied in the Art Academy of Latvia’s Visual Communication Sub-Department and at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne. Having participated in exhibitions since 2001, he has twice been nominated for the Purvītis Prize for the exhibition Lost (Riga Art Space, 2009), and subsequently for the video animation “The Long Day” (Festival Survival Kit 4, 2012) and the exhibition “The Fragility of Trust” (Galerija Alma, 2012). In 2011, he was one of the finalists nominated for the prestigious Henkel Art Award. In 2013, together with artist Kaspars Podnieks, he represented Latvia at the 55th Venice Art Biennale with the pavilion North by Northeast.
Reserved, melancholic, intellectually justified and visually filigree - this briefly describes the artist Krišs Salmanis, who is no doubt one of the brightest representatives of contemporary art in Latvia.
Krišs Salmanis uses animation, video, photography, objects as well as his body, trees etc in his art. However, it is neither the media used, nor the unifying themes, but rather the employed method what characterizes his work.
In Latvian there is not an appropriate synonym for the word 'joke' to denote that the element, which in Salmanis’ work can be perceived as irony or humour, is instead mental excersise, intellectual activity, wit as a twist of thought.
Another important aspect is formulated best by the artist himself, using Kurt Vonnegut’s idea of the complicated futility. The making of Salmanis’ work is often seemingly unnecessarily time- and effort-consuming. It is a kind of self-invented craftsmanship, which, even if unnoticed by the spectator, is a vital component of the final piece. The work of Krišs Salmanis is the process of thinking and the way of passing one’s life.
Conceptual clarity and poetic polysemy co-exist in Salmanis’ art. Painstakingly elaborate, the works are thought out to the tiniest detail; they are often quite minimalist as to artistic expression and defined by their unexpected paradoxicality and intuitive quest for the truth combined with subtle irony and existential sadness.
Māra Brīvere : Māra’s painting reflects the artist’s path to liberation manifested through rejection of everything superfluous. This is characterized by emotional measurements precisely captured right down to the last millimetre, which are both personal and fragile. In hushed tones, with impressions akin to lines of chalk, and highlighting the value of simplicity and humility, Māra forms a reflection of her own subjective reality. She “portrays” signs or road signs, which help one to see clearly, without the sediment of domestic pollution or the context of the age.
Scrupulously and laboriously conceived large-format paintings or momentary vestiges tell of our unity with nature, the primordial origins of the world, the unjustifiable seismic jolts of fate and the imperceptible expanses of her roots and soul.
Kristiana Dimitere : "Kristiana`s art is live theatre, captured in mid-motion. The vivid colours conceal within themselves an omen of fate, which is also always present in the eyes of the characters and sometimes even outside of the picture."
This description by the artist`s mother, legendary Latvian actress Vija Artmane, helps understand the complicated world of Kristiana Dimitere`s art. She`s equally comfortable sculpting, painting, drawing, illustrating, and creating stage sets and animations.
The trump card of Kristiana Dimitere`s art is the plasticity of her shapes and the recognisable lines which tame the artist`s vibrant, fantastic characters so akin to the aesthetics of naïve art.
Ivars Drulle :
Vika Eksta : www.vikaeksta.com
Kristians Fukss : Kristians Fukss (1999) is a young Latvian artist, who lives and works in Riga. He creates installations based on sensibility. Working in video, animation, painting and sculpture, Kristians fuses a hyper-sensitive imagination and a childishly playful gaze with an autobiographical narrative. By visually playing with the image of Mickey Mouse, which forms the basis of Fukss visual language, he transforms his characters into fairytale characters who narrate themes of complex human relationships, intellectual themes and dreamlike insights, making a new wave of romanticism in Latvian contemporary art.
Barbara Gaile : Barbara Gaile is one of the more unorthodox representatives of Latvian contemporary art. The source and solution of her self-expression is in her thorough, complete and self-sufficient brand of minimalism.
THE ORGANIC WORKS OF BARBARA GAILE
It is common to break down contemporary art into various trends, to single out tendencies, establish conceptions and strategies, emphasise discourses, describe contexts, recognise conventionality and engage in other similar analytical procedures. This is normal for professional critics and art historians; it helps the audience of contemporary art to orient itself across the manifold space of the latest artistic culture. However, there are artists whose works are ill-suited for such analytic systematisation. One should also note that these are not outsiders but remarkable, talented artists. Of course, Mark Rothko, Cy Twombly, Yves Klein and Agnes Martin can be categorised as abstract artists but this does not help us much to understand their works. In addition, this inclusive definition tends to set them apart from the current trends in contemporary art but their art continues to attract us and is perceived as the best in contemporary painting.
It seems to me that the works of Barbara Gaile coincide with various conceptual strategies in contemporary art (such as field painting or salient painting) but first of all they relate to some exceptionally profound and strong artists. Besides those mentioned above, I could add other wonderful and radically different artists: Louise Bourgeois, Kaze Zimblyte, Rachel Whiteread, Mona Hatoum… Each of them features a distinctive evocative quality that is also typical of Barbara Gaile’s works. She, like the other artists mentioned, pays particular attention to the technological side of making an artwork, turning the process of creativity into an ecstatic procedure and expecting the appropriate perception from the viewer.
Barbara avoids a painterly approach, favouring texture instead; while emphasising the origin of colour in light and retaining the self-sufficient value of pigment, she preserves its “sound” but not its materiality. The materiality of Barbara’s works is recreated; it is different - like the materiality of a living organism… At the same time, the question of materiality recedes into the background; much more important is the life of that which Barbara has created and which would be difficult to call a painting in the traditional sense. It is life and interaction with us as spectators. The suggestive character of the works is so strong that they put us in a state of sustained contemplation and meditation. Barbara’s works appear to stand openly before the viewer yet at the same time they are closed in their autonomous existence. There is no open expression or narrative. It seems that we are contemplating some kind of living organisms, bodies with healed scars and opalescent skin… It is no longer either salient painting or still life but salient life – life created by the artist.
I get the impression that Barbara Gaile has now reached a certain peak in her artistic development, so convincingly does she cultivate her mastery, so stable is the technological side of her painting and her organic creative position. The originality of Gaile’s creativity expands the space of Latvian contemporary art; it gives the most recent art in the world added value and undoubtedly has its audience.
Art critic, artistic director of the Russian National Centre for Contemporary Art
Ernests Kļaviņš : Through the simple / playful use of colour, drawing and animation, the intelligent provocateur has conjured up fables that make us smile and think... The titles of the works are important for decoding the connections – they serve as rejoinders.
Zane Tuča : ZANE TUČA
...But one can never get quiet enough...
“When I was a girl, I was terribly sure trees and flowers were the same as birds or people. That they thought things, and talked among themselves. And we could hear them if we really tried. It was just a matter of emptying your head of all other sounds. Being very quiet and listening very hard. But one can never get quiet enough...”
(A quote by Truman Capote, inspired by real life events, in the reconstructed detective novel In Cold Blood )
For the most part, attempts to depict, subjectivize or even invent silence in works of art are characterised by delicate and fine intonations. Oftentimes, hidden minutiae and details that are initially obscure are of major, nigh on decisive, importance. Art born of the material of silence strives to be unobtrusive, inconspicuous, and requires a more enduring gaze from the viewer, including when art gravitates towards a kind of durability, which is much slower and less familiar to the mind than the everyday rhythm of time. Zane Tuča’s monochrome compositions largely correspond to associations and intuitive visual archetypes about silence. At the same time, they also represent something more, something stemming from the gamma of emotions and feelings that can be contrasted to all that is noisy, challenging and dramatic in the system of binary oppositions.
The paintings in the exhibition ...But one can never get quiet enough are about that silence that can be found, not in the absence of sounds, but rather on softer information frequencies that are perceivable in less verbal ways. They tell of a time that Zane Tuča sought to stop and freeze. Perhaps, this is the only state in which silence can exist. At the simplest level, the artist depicts how various moments in time can simultaneously overlap; this physically impossible state, which has stimulated the creative imagination of so many artists and inspired numerous artistic depictions of contemporaneity, in which the present, past, future and other customary watersheds merge. The depictions of landscape that one sees in Zane Tuča’s paintings reflect this mental time zone, where different principles of space and durability prevail.
Overlays are also formed in the technical execution of the works. Areas painted in acrylic are covered with exquisite drawing, which both clarifies and tonally blends the depicted forms, as well as accentuating the minimalist colour. Thus, the fine and time-consuming working process of drawing is of major significance, because it echoes the meditative deceleration visible in the paintings, which is out of this world. The artist captures restrained laconic landscapes and studies of nature and architecture in glassy reflections, with each depicted detail doubling and toying with the effects of Northern light. Zane Tuča has also used this approach in her previous works, returning to it through various motifs. If we are seeking the classical logic of representation in these paintings, then, as in the Ancient Greek myth about Narcissus, the confluence of brilliance and an object creates a new third image, which is a symbol of transience and imperceptibility. Landscape elements are a way of thinking about moments, unravelling the mysteries of time and physically perceptible silence, which disrupt its consistently foreseeable flow.
The works in ...But one can never get quiet enough were created by Zane Tuča during her residency in Norway. In a reserved Nordic manner, she captures the locale’s instruments of silence – nature and man-made architecture. Seeking the origin of the silence visible in the paintings, one concludes that it does not lie within the anarchically charged silence of 4’33”, nor ethereal metaphysics. In Zane Tuča’s works, asceticism overlaps with the calligraphy of forms. As a result, we can observe references to some decidedly matter-of-fact traditions of photorealism and self-conceived approaches to meditation, which present vision as the content of the work of art and startle the mind through efforts to see reality anew, devoid of the layers wrought by urban urgency and noise.
Kristīne Kursiša _ Ārpus kontroles _ 26.09. - 22.10. 2009., Kristīne Kursiša _ Out Of Control _ 26.09. - 22.10. 2009.
Mūsu laika ikonas _ 27.10. - 14.12.2009., Contemporary Icons _ 27.10. - 14.12.2009.
ARCOmadrid 2010 _ Gints Gabrans _ 17. - 21.02. 2010., ARCOmadrid 2010 _ Gints Gabrans _ 17. - 21.02.2010.
Jānis Blanks _ Personālizstāde _ 27.03. - 30.04.2010., Jānis Blanks _ Solo show _ 27.03. - 30.04.2010.
Ivars Drulle _ Balstīts uz patiesiem notikumiem _ 27.04. - 10.06.2011., Ivars Drulle _ Based on True Stories _ 27.04. - 10.06.2011.
Ernests Kļaviņš _ Karš starp titāniem un rūķīšiem _ 28.11. - 02.12.2011., Ernests Kļaviņš _ War Between the Titans and Gnomes _ 28.11. - 02.12.2011.
Krišs Salmanis _ Uzticēšanās trauslums _ 28.05. - 27.07.2012., Krišs Salmanis _ The fragility of trust _ 28.05. - 27.07.2012.
Andris Breže _ Miera Dzīve _ 5.10.2012. - 09.01.2013, Andris Breže _ A Life of Peace _ 5.10.2012. - 09.01.2013
Ivars Drulle _ Jums tūlīt atlaidīs _ 22.11.2013. - 24.01.2014., Ivars Drulle _ You’ll be pardoned forthwith _ 22.11.2013. - 24.01.2014.
Molekulārās Dzīves Metamorfozes _ 20.06. - 15.08.2014, Metamorphoses of Molecular Life _ 20.06. - 15.08.2014
Aija Zariņa _ RA i nis _ 26.02. - 20.03. 2015, Aija Zariņa _ RA i nis _ 26.02. - 20.03. 2015
Andris Breže, Krišs Salmanis _ 05.05 - 05.06. 2015., Andris Breže, Krišs Salmanis _ 05.05 - 05.06. 2015.
Camille Henrot, Māra Brīvere, Daiga Grantiņa _ Haosa Harmonija _ 9.06.-5.09.2016., Camille Henrot, Māra Brīvere, Daiga Grantiņa _ The Harmony of Chaos _ 9.06.-5.09.2016.
Ēriks Apaļais _ Le Cygne _ 07.09. - 14.10.2016., Ēriks Apaļais _ Le Cygne _ 07.09. - 14.10.2016.
Ivars Drulle _ Manai Dzimtenei _ 30.11.2016. - 20.01.2017., Ivars Drulle _ To My Homeland _ 30.11.2016. - 20.01.2017.
Amalie Smith _ ΜΗΧΑΝΙΚΟΣ _ 10.04. - 19.05.2017., Amalie Smith _ ΜΗΧΑΝΙΚΟΣ _ 10.04. - 19.05.2017.
Kopā viens EVELĪNA VIDA un ANDRÉ VIDA 29. 05. – 21.07.2017., Alone Together by EVELINA VIDA and ANDRÉ VIDA 29.05. - 21.07. 2017
ĒRIKS APAĻAIS Institucionālās spēles 17.11. 2017. - 26.01.2018., ĒRIKS APAĻAIS Institutional Gambling 17.11. 2017. - 26.01.2018.
To My Homeland
In his works, Ivars Drulle often turns his attention to reflecting on ambiguous social processes, of the kind that people find it awkward to discuss in public; contemplating these through those points at which they come into contact with his own private life. This time, the essential impulses for the creation of his works were the artist’s daily life in the Vidzeme countryside, and his observations of the surrounding environment and the lives of those that populate it, which are materialised in several objects. At first, the ironic title To My Homeland gives rise to associations with banal postcards of idyllic landscapes or photographs from “Lauku Avīze” calendars, i.e. images of nature symbolising patriotic pride. The irony is partly concealed in the fact that the installations on view in the exhibition can also be perceived as depictions of landscapes, as well as physically direct impressions of nature, which offer the viewer the chance to consider the romance of rural life through the prism of its social reality, as opposed to via aesthetic contemplation. The cross-sections of homeland scenes created by Ivars Drulle also pose a rhetorical question about the patriotism of the average Latvian, which is so often expressed through the attitude, “I love this land, but I don’t love this country”. The differences between both are becoming ever more pronounced, just like those that set rural and urban lifestyles apart, which exist as two parallels, one constituting an exotic world for the other. The mechanisms of global economic and local political power have transformed the countryside into a landscape of ruins, but this does prevent national ideologies from presenting “the fields of the homeland” as assets integral to the Latvian self and wisdom, whose connection with real everyday rural life is tenuous in the extreme.
All of these processes can be observed and recorded through the passive view of a tourist, trying to seek sanctuary from his everyday routine amidst the landscapes of his homeland. However, Ivars Drulle has been driven by anthropological quests for local identity (which crucially should not be confused with national identity), begging the question of whether that which is most frequently designated with the trendy term of “site-specific” can actually exist under conditions of globalization? For the artist and many of us, classical Latvian rural houses, their standard proportions and scales signify a code of Latvian aesthetics, which we perceive on an imperceptible, almost unconscious, level. To My Homeland depicts how political and economic conditions deform this visual code. Deformations in the form of silhouettes are immortalised on iron plates, somewhat reminiscent of peculiar gravestone inscriptions, as well as in photographs – since 2013, the artist has endeavoured to photograph the abandoned houses, numbering at least 350, located within a 15 km radius of his house in Vidzeme (mentally, try to recalculate these numbers into measurement units of people’s destinies).
Even though the concept of identity is easy to manipulate by transforming it into an empty construct, comprised of words that communicate nothing; a sense of geographic affinity can also serve as psychological therapy. Particularly so in the digital era, when geographical borders now mean next to nothing when it comes to mutual communication, and no longer serve as reference points for social life. On this occasion, Ivars Drulle has engaged in cognitive mapping by incorporating topographically direct, as well as aesthetically and emotionally abstract information within the exhibition’s works. This multi-layered approach is repeated in the visual language of the installations, using materials and techniques that incorporate and emphasise the essence of process. In their slow duration, rust “paintings”, kinetic constructions and slide projections repeat the rhythm of rural life, setting them apart from digital high tech aesthetics and technologically efficient accelerations – instead, giving precedence to artisan forms of expression.
In working on his exhibition To My Homeland, Ivars Drulle has gravitated towards the artistic strategies, which Western art theoreticians described as the approach of “the Artist as Anthropologist” (Joseph Kosuth in the 1970s) or “the Artist as Ethnographer” (Hal Foster in the 1990s). Parallel to socio-anthropological documentation, the works in the exhibition also incorporate the direct personal experience that arises from daily life in the countryside. Accordingly, in the works on show, the artist’s rural surroundings exist not as a passive, geographically specific physical location, but rather as a mental space interwoven with various social, historical and mental processes. On a deeper level, this mutual interaction between the artist and his environment materialises in the garden, which Ivars Drulle has installed in one of the ruins, and above which a video camera has been installed, which films the dawn sky throughout the year, as a dedication to the dreams of the one-time residents of these houses.