The exhibition is a vivid composition of paintings, installations, porcelain, and video art created by eight artists and groups of authors nominated by independent experts for the Purvītis Prize for outstanding achievement in visual art of Latvia in 2019 and 2020. The nominees are Skuja Braden, Valdis Celms, Krista and Reinis Dzudzilo, Kaspars Groševs, Ieva Kraule-Kūna and Elīna Vītola, Rasa and Raitis Šmits, Aija Zariņa, Amanda Ziemele. A total of 18 artists / groups of artists, whose creative achievements have been recognised as important events within Latvia’s visual art scene during the period from 1 January 2019 until 31 December 2020, were nominated for the Purvītis Prize 2021 shortlist. The exhibition is curated by Daiga Rudzāte.
THE PURVĪTIS PRIZE 2021 NOMINEES
Duo SKUJA BRADEN has been nominated for the prize for their exhibition Samsara with a special focus on the central piece of the exhibition Ilga’s altar at the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design (14.03.–27.09.2020).
Justification of the nomination: “A vivid, distinctive, and unusual phenomenon on the Latvian art scene, the artistic practice of Skuja Braden has been making itself particularly noticeable right now, resonating with the globally topical feminist narratives and the renaissance of ceramic art as an expression of creative thought.
The Samsara exhibition featured groups and clusters of grotesque grimacing countenances and portraits of contemporaries, baroque in their scope and power; skulls vibrating with macabre energy; moralizing parades of virtues and vices; prostitutes, geishas, dogs and politicians. Cultural historical references alternated with manifestations of feminist and critical thought, never shying away from trivial banalities, almost pushing the boundaries of good taste at times. It may have, at some point, probably seemed a bit over the top. And yet surprisingly it is this explosively baroque and manneristic pattern of the exhibition, intertwining the countless threads of different stories, solved using an archaic technique rather than the latest technologies, that creates an almost detonating effect, revealing in a very exact and contemporary way the grotesque face of today’s world, also highlighting almost prophetically the extraordinary situation that the world is currently living through,” believes Solvita Krese, Director of the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art.
VALDIS CELMS has been nominated for his kinetic sculptures Rhythms of Life and Positron at the Riga International Biennale of Contemporary Art exhibition And Suddenly It All Blossoms (20.08.–13.09.2020).
Justification of the nomination: “Realized as part of RIBOCA2, these works by the pioneer of Latvian kinetic art Valdis Celms are exhilarating with their contemporary spirit and aesthetically impressive technical solutions. The two Constructivist objects had lain dormant as ideas and sketches since the 1970s and only became tangible works of art this year.
Through their mechanical movement, the kinetic large-scale sculptures Rhythms of Life and Positron resonate with the ever-changing human situation and principles of world order while simultaneously highlighting Celms’ visionary approach to creation of art (design – as it was known back then) objects in the distant past of fifty years ago. Through these ornamental constructions, the artist establishes a link between the tiniest elementary particles and the vast expanse of the Universe, helping the viewer experience themselves emotionally and indeed very physically as part of a larger whole,” says curator Elīna Sproģe.
KRISTA and REINIS DZUDZILO have been nominated for their work “ZRwhdZ” at Kim? Contemporary Art Centre (22.08.–06.10.2019).
Justification of the nomination: “The work by Krista and Reinis Dzudzilo, which initially brought them international recognition at the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space as the best curatorial concept, is one of the most unique projects in Latvian contemporary art. First, the work of art itself is an art machine. Not in a figurative sense as proposed by the modernists but in the literal, obvious sense, representing the self-sufficient beauty of man-made technogenic world and… the distanced detachment of a machine. Second, the concept, combining the functionality and qualities of set design, environmental design, interior objects, and musical instruments, has created the prerequisites for a genuine Gesamtkunstwerk,” comments Dr. art. Andris Teikmanis, Professor at the Art Academy of Latvia.
KASPARS GROŠEVS has been nominated for his multimedia installation Different Room at the art festival Cēsis 2020 (25.07.–28.08.2020).
Justification of the nomination: “The Different Room multimedia installation by Kaspars Groševs reveals a multilayered cross-section of the various aspects of the artist’s diverse artistic practice, creating in a sense a paraphrase of Gesamtkunstwerk or the format of the total artwork in the context of contemporary art. Painting interacts with sound here, allowing the various analogue and digital sound generation, play-back tools and machinery become an integral part of the installation – become ready-mades infused with new life. The saturated and fragmented space becomes an immersive environment where the viewer can surrender to an unmediated sensual experience. Different Room can also be viewed as part of dialogue with Virginia Woolf’s essay A Room of One’s Own, an iconic feminist text, questioning the stereotypes of the masculine perspective in the contemporary society,” observes curator, art historian Solvita Krese.
IEVA KRAULE-KŪNA and ELĪNA VĪTOLA have been nominated for their project Artist Crisis Centre over a period of two years at gallery Low and Kim? Contemporary Art Centre.
Justification of the nomination: “The Artist Crisis Centre project by Ieva Kraule-Kūna and Elīna Vītola has undergone several transformations over the course of two years. While in its initial incarnation at the Lowgallery it featured a space and interior design by the authors, taking under its wing every kind of creative failures by 16 other artists, it has now been transformed into a backpack, a portable version of Artist Crisis Centre.
The artists have succeeded in creating a form- and content-wise uniform project that has been able to aptly pinpoint the reality of art life and wittily draw our attention to the institutional background built around the artist, urging us to reconsider the process of art making, the hows and whys of art funding and also who are the people who decide which work of art is or is not shown, is or is not purchased,” explains curator Līna Birzaka-Priekule.
RASA and RAITIS ŠMITS have been nominated for their work Atmospheric Forest (2020) at the virtual exhibition Critical Zones. Observatories for Earthly Politics (22.05.2020–28.02.2021) organized by the Centre for Art and Media ZKM in Karlsruhe (Germany).
Justification of the nomination: “Atmospheric Forest by Rasa Šmite and Raitis Šmits, on view at the Critical Zones. Observatories for Earthly Politics exhibition curated by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel, represents the next curve of the art spiral in technological neospiritualism, marking at least three noteworthy qualities. First, it is an artistic research. Meaning that artistic means of expression are employed not for the sake of reflection of any kind but to generate new knowledge. The subject is the Swiss Alps coniferous forests currently suffering from drought and the “live observatory” set up in this environment. Second, thanks to the global technologies, the project is simultaneously global and local; it prompts us to review our ways of treating our planet and contributes to the discussion of decolonization of the earth (Gaia). Third, it is simply the best-known example of contemporary landscape art created by virtual technologies. It is aesthetically enriching. It is meditative. It helps recover lost harmony and equilibrium. It brings peace,” remarks Dr. art. Andris Teikmanis.
AIJA ZARIŅA has been nominated for her solo exhibition Wake Up, Wake Up, Free Spirit at the Cupola Hall of the main building of the Latvian National Museum of Art (07.12.2019–02.02.2020).
Justification of the nomination: “The exhibition by Aija Zariņa deals with creativity as one of the most important elements of a human life. While invoking with great ambition and pomp the subject of awakening the national spirit and resurrection as something completely new by transforming from consumers into creators, the artist has managed to set up a painterly space that is dominated by an ambience of a shrine. Aija Zariņa’s monumental figurative compositions organically inhabit the incredibly difficult Cupola Hall, which seems to have acquired a spiritual extension with her exhibition, and the general programmatic objective of the show – appealing to the nation – somehow manages to address the viewer quite personally. Noteworthy is Aija Zariņa’s ability to turn images into symbols with a simple, expressionistic, laconic brush stroke, encoding them with unworldly meaning and allowing thinking to be the source of creation of a new world,” curator Līna Birzaka-Priekule comments.
AMANDA ZIEMELE has been nominated for her solo exhibition Quantum Hair Implants at Kim? Contemporary Art Centre (21.02.–07.04.2019).
Justification of the nomination: “Both the relatively recent proposal at Riga Circulc Elephant Stables and works at the Kim? exhibition are encounters with experimental painting that still remains true to the traditional “canvas/oil” element of the art form. It is in its interplay with the exhibition space, untypical frame formats and positioning of the works that it discovers its extension. The visual grammar in Ziemele’s works is created by colour expanses or line strokes that are too robust, archaic, inspired by unknown depth psychology to take it on themselves to represent the recognisable. There is a Wunderkammer type of magic narrative skill to the abstract nature characteristic of data visualization in her painting. Ziemele’s exhibition prods you to become more observant and knowledgeable while also making you doubt if it even is possible to depict something genuinely fundamental or fundamentally genuine,” art theorist and curator Kaspars Vanags explains experts’ choice.
THE PURVĪTIS PRIZE 2021
The winner of Purvītis Prize 2021 will be determined by an international jury after assessing the performance of each nominee at the collective exhibition. The laureate will be announced on 11 June.
Until 9 June at 23.59 the public will be able to vote for their favourite from the shortlist at news portal Delfi. The winner of the public vote will also be announced on 11 June.
To continue the tradition instated two years ago, a lifetime achievement award in art will also be presented this year, and it will go to Maija Tabaka for her loyalty to painting throughout her lifetime and for preserving the spirit of figurative painting in Latvian art. The decision on which artist to bestow this award to is taken by the organisation committee of the Purvītis Prize. The monetary prize is 10 000 EUR (not including taxes). Let us recall that the first lifetime achievement award was presented to painter Džemma Skulme (1925–2019).
Any interested person is invited to watch the award ceremony live streaming on the portal Delfi.lv, as well as on the Purvītis Prize and the Latvian National Museum of Art’s Facebook accounts (@purvisa.balva, @LNMMmuzejs).
THE PURVĪTIS PRIZE
The Purvītis Prize is the most prestigious and the most substantial visual art award in Latvia. Founded in January 2008, the Purvītis Prize was launched to amass regular and systematic information about the latest visual arts events in Latvia, promote development of new projects and original ideas, acknowledge the best achievements in Latvian professional visual arts and popularise the success of Latvian artists both in Latvia and abroad.
The award is named after the Old Master of Latvian painting Vilhelms Purvītis (1872–1945). He was an outstanding artist and art professor who won critical acclaim both at home and internationally. The co-founder of the national school of art and the pioneer of the national landscape painting, Vilhelms Purvītis is one of the all-time most influential figures in Latvian cultural and art life. He was the Head of the Riga Art School, the Director of the Riga Museum of Art and the founder of the collection of Latvian art, the founder and the first Rector of the Art Academy of Latvia and for many years, the Head of the landscape masterclass at the Academy, the Commissioner General of all the representative Latvian art exhibitions abroad during the interwar period.
The authority, educational work and artistic style of this prominent landscapist and Fellow of the St. Petersburg Academy of Art has left an impact on several generations of Latvian artists. A wise and farsighted culture politician, Vilhelms Purvītis was an active supporter of the young artists of the time and discovered a number of talented painters who later played important roles on the Latvian art scene. The name of Vilhelms Purvītis has become a sign of national identity, both in the history of Latvian art and in the eyes of the general public. Therefore the Prize is a kind of synthesis of established, classical values and the seemingly momentary, contemporary art processes.
The Purvītis Prize is awarded biannually to an artist or a group of artists representing Latvia with outstanding work, which is deemed to be deeply connected to the developments of the era and forming a bridge between contemporary life, spiritual ideals and intrinsic values. The artist rated highest by a panel of experts and a specially established international jury is selected as the winner. The Prize is 28 500 EUR (including taxes).
The first Purvītis Prize was awarded in 2009 to Katrīna Neiburga for her video work Solitude. Artist Kristaps Ģelzis became the second winner of the Purvītis Prize in 2011 for his solo exhibition Varbūt(Maybe). The third Purvītis Prize in 2013 has won Andris Eglītis for his one-man show Zemes darbi (Soil Works). The fourth winner of the Purvītis Prize in 2015 was Miķelis Fišers for his personal exhibition Netaisnība (Disgrace). The Purvītis Prize 2017 went to a group of artists – Krišs Salmanis, Anna Salmane and Kristaps Pētersons – for their exhibition Dziesma (Song). The sixth Purvītis Prize was awarded in 2019 to artist Ieva Epnere for her personal exhibition Sea of Living Memories.
The Purvītis Prize competition in visual arts is organised by the Latvian National Museum of Art in collaboration with the Museum Patron, SIA Alfor, and SIA Culture Project Agency ‘INDIE’ (Kultūras projektu aģentūra “INDIE”). The Purvītis Prize organisation is assisted by association Art Platform (Mākslas platforma) and P.R.A.E. Public Relations (P.R.A.E. Sabiedriskās attiecības).
Gallery name: Latvian National Museum of Art
Address: Jaņa Rozentāla laukums 1, Riga
Opening hours: Tue-Thu 10:00 - 18:00, Fri 10:00 - 20:00, Sat-Sun 10:00 - 17:00
Open: 04.06.2021 - 08.08.2021