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 20th century. 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From today’s vantage point, this genre can sometimes deceptively appear as an outdated and antiquated, even banal phenomenon that has little to do with the pulse of the modern day life and has no hope of becoming an instrument which can help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.