At a press conference held at the Latvian National Museum of Art on 12 December, the eight finalists for the 2017* Purvītis Prize were announced.
Over a period of two years, a panel of independent judges reviewed more than 150 exhibitions from which they selected 25 artists whose work they then concentrated their attention upon. The winner of the 2017 Purvītis Prize will be announced on 17 February 2017, at which time an exhibition featuring the works of all eight finalists will be opened in the Great Exhibition Hall of the Latvian National Museum of Art.
The body of work created by the following artists/artist-groups has been judged as noteworthy to the Latvian visual art scene, in the time period spanning 1 December 2014 to 7 December 2016:
ARTURS BĒRZIŅŠ, for the solo shows “Attēldarbi” (“Works of Images”), held at the “Māksla XO” gallery, from 17.12.2015 – 19.01.2016; and “Attēldarbi II” (“Works of Images II”), held at the Olaine History and Art Museum (09.11.2016 – 8.12.2016).
Bērziņš has said about his show “Works of Images”: “I have always been interested in the image, and I think that the way we perceive the world is largely visual in nature. I’m not interested in art that is only like the solving of mathematical equations, the reconciliation of opposites. What seems more interesting is a field of ideas, and creating a some kind of review of it. Like reminders. […] In the show, there are references to the ideas of several different people. For instance, Plato said that the visible world is only its shadow. Similarly, in other works he wrote that the visible world is only an illusion that coincides with the metaphor of shadow. In other words, perceptions are only the shadows of objects – the images of objects. Whereas in Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason”, Kant speaks about the image along the lines of: if you attempted to clean an object of its perception, down to its “core”, if you removed everything that we perceive with our senses, then you’d be left with just the image. Basically, in this world we don’t have access to anything except the image. One can’t judge the world from just that.”
IVARS DRULLE, for his solo show “Manai dzimtenei” (“For My Homeland”), held at the gallery “Alma” (30.11.2016 – 20.01.2017).
A view of Ivars Drulle’s exhibition “For My Homeland”, at the gallery “Alma”. 2016
Tomass Pārups wrote of the show: “The exhibition differs from the artist’s previous endeavors in that here we see not just an ironic commentary, but also an observation that is full of compassion –even sentimental. In documenting abandoned buildings, Drulle points out that they are being preserved regardless of what may happen to their physical form. In the accompanying text, art critic Santa Mičule writes that the exhibition’s irony can be discerned from its title, and it is also partly hidden in the romanticization of the environment. Upon viewing the show, however, it seems that this romanticizing is unpolluted by irony, and that it is authentic.”
KRISTAPS EPNERS, for his solo show “Vingrinājumi” (“Exercises”), held at the floating art gallery “Noass” (20.05.2016 – 24.07.2016)
A view of Kristaps Epners’ show “Exercises”, at the floating art center “Noass”. 2016. Photo: Ansis Starks
From an interview with Kristaps Epners: “There’s a special atmosphere at a gymnastics school that speaks to me. Hundreds of gymnasts go there to train – from very small children who have barely just learned to walk, to teenagers, to very experienced gymnasts.
“Something about it kept working away at my mind. I was awed at the gymnasts’ focus and ability to distance themselves from the activities and amusements of ‘normal’ life, just so that they can train for five or six days a week. Perhaps these are the same qualities that have brought about my interest in running – routine, consistency, training, repetition. These are themes that I like to solve and depict in my art.”
ATIS JĀKABSONS, for his solo show “Dark Matter”, held at the Mūkusalas Māsklas salons / Mūkusala Art Salon (22.05.2015 – 27.06.2015).
A view of Atis Jākabsons’ show “Dark Matter” at the Mūkusala Art Salon. 2015. Photo: Didzis Grodzs
“Dark matter is perceivable only by way of how it deforms our reality – solely due to this deformity. Much like how a clear glass vase filled with water deforms what is behind it – we don’t see the vase itself because it is made of glass. The existence of dark matter and dark energy was discovered relatively recently. If we used to think that the Universe was so very large, we suddenly understood that what we now know about the Universe is only about five percent of it – the rest is dark matter and dark energy. Upon going deeper into this subject, there comes a moment when you realize that you are also going into yourself, and there is just as much dark matter – the unknown – there as well.”
VOLDEMĀRS JOHANSONS, for his video installation “Slāpes” (“Thirst”), as part of the New Theater Festival “Homo Novus” held at the former textile factory “Boļševička” (04.09.2015 – 10.09.2015)
Voldemārs Johansons. “Thirst”. A view of the installation during the “Homo Novus” festival. 2015
Gundega Laiviņa, director of the “Homo Novus” festival, in an interview with Arterritory: “This monumental tribute to an oceanic storm invites the viewer to come and spend some time experiencing the scene created by the undulating volume of water, wind, rain, and sound; to observe and listen to this force of nature from a distance – something which wouldn’t be possible in the natural environment where wonder is soon overcome by terror. Johansons himself admits that during the creation of the work –which took place on a trip to Iceland and which is where he experienced this storm – he was surprised by his own feelings; the truly harsh weather conditions made him wish to look for shelter rather than keep watching this uniquely fascinating show being put on by mother nature.”
MAIJA KURŠEVA, for the her work “Dzīvesprieks” (“The Joy of Living”), in the exhibition “Lielāks miers, mazāks miers” (“Greater Peace, Lesser Peace”), at the Latvian Railway History Museum (7.10.2015 – 1.11.2015)
A view of the video installation “The Joy of Living”. At the exhibition “Greater Peace, Lesser Peace”, held at the Latvian Railway History Museum. 2015
Ieva Astahovska substantiates both her personal choice of Kurševa, as well as that of the Purvītis Prize working group: “A wall of moving images, in front of which are more images – both moving and still. Fragments of reality and plays on form, whose movements never take them anywhere. It’s as if it’s something general and abstract, or the exact opposite – detailed and too concrete. To describe what it really is (even in one’s own mind) seems either impossible or silly. Or to give a rational meaning to what we’re seeing – seems even more pointless. Nevertheless, in spite of this – or, perhaps, because of this elusiveness – I perceive that this piece works with a magnetic reaction. In a sense, movement which has something both attracting and repelling within it at the same time. In an attempt to formulate what this ‘something’ is, the artist’s own commentary in the work’s annotation comes to our aid – it is about unrest as a state of existence. It is able to resonate within me so closely as a viewer probably because it is so personal.”
ANDA LĀCE, for her performance “Atindēšana” (“Detoxification”), as part of the exhibition “Miervaldis Polis. Ilūzija kā īstenība” (“Miervaldis Polis. Illusion As Truth”), on 10 June 2016, in the square in front of the Latvian National Museum of Art.
Anda Lāce’s performance “Atindēšana” (“Detoxification”), as part of the exhibition “Miervaldis Polis. Ilūzija kā īstenība” (“Miervaldis Polis. Illusion As Truth”), on 10 June 2016, in the square in front of the Latvian National Museum of Art. Photo: Kristaps Jansons
“The performance was based upon the folk myth of cats having the ability to heal others by taking up the sickness within themselves. This idea wouldn’t leave me alone. I imagined what it would be like if we really knew it were true, and we could physically see the process of the sickness transferring into a friend, cat, or dog. It is self-evident that we mutually influence each other, but I wanted to talk about more extreme situations – the realization of what it is that we are transferring. It is, in large part, about looking for ways and methods to calm and soothe,” Lāce revealed in an interview with Arterritory.
KRIŠS SALMANIS, ANNA SALMANE, and KRISTAPS PĒTERSONS, for their exhibition “Dziesma” (“Song”), at the Creative Workshop held at the LNMA’s exhibition hall “Arsenāls” (19.06.2015 – 26.07.2015)
A view of the exhibition “Dziesma” (“Song”), at the Creative Workshop held at the LNMA’s exhibition hall “Arsenāls”. Photo: Paula Lūse
An excerpt from an interview with Anna Salmane: “When we came up with the idea for this artwork, we thought that the most-often used and repeated words would result in something more somber, but it wasn’t that bad. Looking at it rationally, all of those words speak about an ancient history or even mystical time in which no one has ever lived. We don’t live like that. We perceive the national Song Festivals emotionally, not really listening to the words – but perhaps we should. It seems we should be be creating new songs, new words that speak about what is happening today, and about what we are capable of.”
*The Purvītis Award is the highest and most prestigious visual art award in Latvia. It was established in 2008 with the goal of regularly and systematically following current events in visual art in Latvia, promoting the intensity of Latvian art processes, encouraging new projects and the development of original ideas, and popularising the creative accomplishments of Latvia’s artists both in Latvia and beyond its borders. The winner of the award receives a monetary award of EUR 28,500.