Exhibition CONTEMPORARY LANDSCAPE
July 13, 2016. year • News
The key theme and consolidating core of the exhibition is the concept of landscape. One of the most vivid phenomena in the genre hierarchy of Western art, landscape, with the dawn of the Era of Isms in the late 1800s, sublimated into itself an array of avant-garde characteristics and a style of expression that it managed to retain throughout the whole course of the 20thcentury. In the art of Latvia, landscape has always been both a magnet of public attention and a significant phenomenon – not least due to the fact that it is the painter Vilhelms Purvītis and his landscapes that serve as the initial point of reference for the art history of this country.
From today’s vantage point, this genre can sometimes deceptively appear as an outdated and antiquated, even banal phenomenon that has little to do with the pulse of the modern day life and has no hope of becoming an instrument which can help reveal the 21st-century world. And yet it is essential to remember that landscape has managed to transform itself into a variety of shapes, proving its contemporariness in a string of significant 20th-century phenomena; it is also one of the instruments favoured by some of the most influential figures of contemporary art.
The idea of this show was born from the desire to confirm the timeless character of the genre of landscape and its ability to take on the role of a catalyst continuing to inspire artists to create outstanding and emotionally capacious works that reflect on themes that strike a chord with the contemporary society, demonstrate the human psycho-emotional condition in the time and space of today – or simply offer an emotionally supertemporal meditative narrative.
The exhibition is centred around a number of prominent phenomena on the contemporary art scene of Latvia: Paula Zariņa, Ieva Epnere, Kristaps Epners, Romans Korovins, Kristiāna Dimitere, the Orbita text group, Sergejs Davidovs, Inga Meldere, Sarmīte Māliņa and Kristaps Kalns, Krišs Salmanis, Anna Salmane and Kristaps Pētersons. They are all contributing new works created especially for the show.
The ‘Contemporary Landscape’ exhibition also features the FAROCKI video by the German-born American experimental filmmaker and artist James Benning, a reflection on the transience and, at the same time, constancy of landscape – a piece that was the initial source of inspiration for the idea behind this show.
JAMES BENNING (1942) is an independent filmmaker and artist from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During his 40-year career, he has made more than 25 feature-length films, both fictional and documentary, which have been shown at art and film festivals in different parts of the world. Benning studied at the University of Wisconsin, graduating with a master’s degree in mathematics. The 1960s were a period of social activism for Benning: he opposed the war in Vietnam, was involved in the civil rights movement and taught immigrant children to read. At 33, Benning obtained a master’s degree in arts, henceforth dedicating his life to filmmaking and lecturing at various American universities. His best known works are ‘American Dreams’ (1984) and ‘Landscape Suicide’ (1986).
Benning is also known for his art projects in which he merges the media of film and visual arts. He has shown his installations, recorded on 16mm film, at the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis and the Whitney Museum of American in New York; his digitally filmed video have been shown at the 21er Haus museum of contemporary art in Vienna, the Argos Centre for Art and Media in Brussels and elsewhere. In all, James Benning have contributed to dozens of group shows in many countries of the world and had many solo exhibitions – in Los Angeles, New York, Vienna, Berlin, Montreal, Stuttgart, Brussels, Hamburg and other cities. Benning is represented by the Berlin neugerriemschneider gallery.
PAULA ZARIŅA (1988) obtained her bachelor’s (2011) and master’s degree (2013) in visual arts, specialising in painting, from the Latvian Academy of Art. In 2009 she continued her studies at the European Academy of Art in Brittany, France. The young painter is an exhibiting artist since 2010. Zariņa has shown at group exhibitions in Latvia and abroad – in the Netherlands, Italy, Estonia, Great Britain, Belgium, Ukraine, etc. Paula Zariņa has had a number of solo shows: ‘Hormone of Happiness’ at the Māksla XO gallery (2013); ‘Awarenesses’ at the Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre and Alma gallery; ‘Episodes’ at the Liepāja Museum; ‘The Great Coexistence’ at the MVT Summer House in Riga (all 2015). Alongside painting, the artist also works in book illustration.
IEVA EPNERE works in photography, video and film. The most characteristic feature of her art is the use of personal stories as a point of departure for artistic reflections on identity, tradition and rituals. Epnere is an exhibiting artist since the late 1990s. The most recent group shows featuring the artist’s works are ‘Identity. Behind the Curtain of Uncertainty’ at the National Art Museum of Ukraine (2016), ‘Something Eerie’ at the Signal Centre for Contemporary Art in Malmö (2016), the 62nd International Short Film Festival in Oberhausen (2016), the 6th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2015), ‘Ornamentalism. Purvītis Prize’ in Venice (2015), etc. Her most recent solo exhibitions include ‘Pyramiden and Other Stories’ at the Warsaw Zachęta Project Room (2015), ‘Paradise for a Young Person’ at the kim? Centre for Contemporary Art (2015), ‘Waiting Room’ at the Contretype Centre for Contemporary Photography in Brussels (2015), ‘Mindscapes’ at the kim? Centre for Contemporary Art (2013) and ‘Green Land’ at the kim? Centre for Contemporary Art (2010).
KRISTAPS EPNERS (1976) obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees (2003) from the Department of Visual Communications at the Latvian Academy of Art. Epners works in video, sound installation, kinetic installation, photography and animation. Alongside work in these media, he is also active as a set designer, music video artist and director. An exhibiting artist since 1996, Epners has had a number of solo shows, the most recent of which was ‘Exercises’ in 2016, at the Noass floating art gallery. The most significant group exhibitions featuring his work include ‘Nature. Environment. Man’ at the Arsenāls Exhibition Hall (2004), ‘Disorder’at the Arsenāls Exhibition Hall (2005), ‘Urban Poetry 1’ at the VEF Centre for Arts (2010), ‘(Re)Construction of a Friendship’ at the Corner House (2014), ‘Lost in Archive’ at the Riga Art Space and other Latvian venues (2015/2016).
ROMANS KOROVINS (1973) graduated from the Latvian Academy of Art where he obtained his master’s degree in art (1997) from the Department of Graphic Art, the workshop of Professor Gunārs Krollis. In 1996, Korovins joined the Vilks Productions Studio; since then, he has been directing music videos and commercials alongside his artistic career. Romans Korovins is an exhibiting artist since the early 1990s; he has had six solo exhibitions, the most recent of which were ‘Basket Shaped Flame’ (2012) and ‘Dirty Yellow’ (2015) at the Kalnciema Quarter Gallery. The most recent group shows featuring his works are ‘Ornamentalism. Purvītis Prize’ in Venice (2015), ‘Berlin–Riga. Scores for Indeterminate Places’ at the Kaņepes Culture Centre (2013), the f/stop International Photography Festival in Leipzig (2010), ‘Museum’ at the Survival Kit Festival of Contemporary Art (2010) and ‘Illusion of Inclusion or Inclusion of Illusion’ at the Vartai Gallery in Vilnius (2010).
THE ORBITA TEXT GROUP is a creative literary project that unites the Latvian Russian poets and multimedia artists Arturs Punte, Sergei Timofeyev, Alexander Zapol and Vladimir Svetlov. Since 1999, Orbita has been an active contributor to the cultural life of Latvia, both mounting performances and publishing bilingual collections of poems, photography catalogues and investigative literature. Since the debut of the Orbita text group, a significant role in their projects is played by the audio and visual dimension of poetic texts. Since 2007, the authors have been actively exploring poetic installation as an art form, presenting their work at events like the White Night festival, Survival Kit and Cēsis Art Festival. In 2015, Orbita was represented at the ‘Ornamentalism. Purvītis Prize’ exhibition of Latvian contemporary art in Venice, at the 56th Venice Biennale, with their ‘Two Sonnets from Laputa’ large-scale poetic installation.
Member of the Orbita collective also frequently appear in cultural events abroad, including the Berlin Poetry Festival, ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival in Berlin, Moscow International Poetry Festival, the Ars Poetica Festival in Bratislava, TARP in Vilnius, Svět Knihy in Prague, the Gothenburg and Leipzig international book fairs, etc. For further information on the project, visit their website at www.orbita.lv or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/orbita.lv.
SERGEJS DAVIDOVS (1959) completed a bachelor’s degree in design (1986) and master’s degree in arts (2003) at the Latvian Academy of Art. He worked as a graphic designer in advertising, publishing and print media, a lecturer for the Latvian Academy of Art and the Faculty of Education, Psychology and Art at the University of Latvia. The artist has shown in Latvia and abroad; the most significant exhibitions include ‘Spice Island’ in Bristol (1998), ‘CowParade’ in Ventspils (2002), ‘The Dog Leaves’ (2006), ‘The Ball’ (2007) and ‘Palette’ (2008) at the M6 Gallery in Riga.
INGA MELDERE (1979) obtained a bachelor’s degree in education, in the speciality of visual arts and art history, from the Faculty of Education, Psychology and Art at the University of Latvia (2001) and a bachelor’s degree (2005) and master’s degree (2005) in art restoration from the Latvian Academy of Art. She perfected her skills at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, the Netherlands (2013/2014). Meldere is an exhibiting artist since 2003. The most significant solo exhibitions include ‘Unwritten’ at the kim? centre for contemporary art (2011), ‘Offset’ at the Māksla XO gallery (2011), ‘Enough Is Enough’ (with Mikko Hitz) at the Temnikova & Kasela gallery in Tallinn (2011), ‘Magic Mountain’ at the Māksla XO gallery (2014), ‘Bērzkalni’ at Galleria 12 in Helsinki (2015) and ‘House by the Waterfall or Colouring Books for Adults’ at the Temnikova & Kasela gallery in Tallinn (2016). The artist was also nominated for the 2016 Residency Award of the kim? centre for contemporary art. Works by Inga Meldere are part of the collection of the KIASMA museum of contemporary art in Helsinki.
KRIŠS SALMANIS graduated from the Department of Visual Communications of the Latvian Academy of Art (2003) and the Cologne Academy of Media Arts (2010). The artist works in installation, sculpture, printmaking, animation, object art, video and photography. Salmanis is an exhibiting artist since 1996 and had his first solo show in 1999 at the Mentzendorff House in Riga. His most recent solo exhibitions in 2015 were in Japan, at the Creative Workshop of the Arsenāls Exhibition Hall (with Anna Salmane) and the Alma gallery. With Kaspars Podnieks, Salmanis made the ‘North by Northeast’ installation for the 55th Venice Biennale in 2012. The artist has shown at various exhibitions and festivals in Germany, Switzerland, Lithuania, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Italy, Slovakia, Finland, Russia, Luxembourg, Estonia, Portugal, France, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, USA, Thailand, Japan and Argentina. He was twice nominated for the Purvītis Prize – in 2011 for his ‘Lost’ solo exhibition at Riga Art Space (2009) and in 2013 for ‘The Fragility of Trust’ solo show at the Alma gallery (2012) and his ‘Long Day’ video shown at the Survival Kit 4 festival of contemporary art (2012).
ANNA SALMANE (1980) obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy from the University of Latvia (2007) and a master’s degree in arts at Goldsmiths, University of London (2014). Salmane is an exhibiting artist since 2001. She has had a number of solo exhibitions: ‘Roofs’ at the
Mentzendorff’s House (2008); ‘Wanderer’ at the Westbourne Grove gallery in London (2011) and the LMC Office gallery in Riga (2012), as well as several shows with other artists: ‘Pert & Simple’ with Holly James at the Surface gallery in Nottingham (2013), ‘Song’ with Krišs Salmanis at the Creative Workshop of the Arsenāls Exhibition Hall (2015), ‘Human/Nature’ with Hannah Havana at the Back Room gallery in London (2016) and ‘The Visitors’ with Patricia Mulligan at the NX Project Space in London (2016). Alongside her exhibiting artist’s career, Salmane also works in graphic design and exhibition installation.
KRISTAPS PĒTERSONS (1982) completed his bachelor’s degree in composition and double bass (2005) and his master’s degree in composition at the Jāzepts Vītols Academy of Music. He perfected his skills at the ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in Enschede, the Netherlands (2004) and at the Opera Creation Workshop run by Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and the European Network of Opera Academies (2011). Since 2005, Pētersons is a double bass player at the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra; since early 2015, he also plays double bass for the Kremerata Baltica chamber orchestra. The composer’s opera ‘Mikhail and Mikhail Play Chess’ brought him the 2014 Grand Music Award in the Production of the Year category; Pētersons’ ‘Liepāja Concerto No. 2’ was nominated for the 2012 Grand Music Award in the New Work of the Year category while his ‘Chess’ was nominated for the GMA in the same category in 2010. In 2010, ‘Chess’ won Pētersons the Infinite Copyright Prize awarded by the AKKA/LAA Latvian authors’ society and his ‘Twilight Chants’ won the Rostrum contest held by UNESCO.