From 6 July to 26 August an exhibition of Latvian painting from the Zuzāns Collection dedicated to Cézanne's influence will be on show in the Main Gallery of the Mūkusala Art Salon, representing works created from the beginning of the 20th century to the 1970s.
Paul Cézanne (1839–1906) is one of the key figures in Western European art of the 20th century. He influenced the development of art, forming the basis for the movements of Fauvism and cubism as well as revealing the investigations that are to be found in an independent observation of nature. Cézanne's painting is characterised by the modulation of form using complementary colours, emphasising the volume of objects, an original approach to picture planes, which achieves the effect of movement and tension, deformation, rhythmical brushstrokes that vary in density, as well as the rejection of classical perspective.
Surveying the influences of the author known as the hermit of Aix on Latvian painting, it is possible to trace three stages. During the first, a few years after the death of the author, the artists closer to European culture who had the opportunity to travel or study close to the large collections of art got to know the unappreciated innovator. The acquired influences were absorbed in order to devise a personal path in painting, for example, Jāzeps Grosvalds or the artists from the Zaļā puķe [Green Flower] (later – Riga Artists' Group), or formed a separate Cézannist period, as in the case of Johans Valters. In Soviet Russia, several artists (Augusts Zauers, Leo Svemps) were educated as followers of Russian Cézannists in the Moscow Higher Art and Technical Studios. Following their return to Latvia, they continued to cultivate this movement for a certain period.
The second wave of Cézannism was set in motion by the artists' travels to the most important West European centres that were subsidised by the Latvian state, but the canvases of only a handful of authors reveal a lasting impression, and fragmentary references are more common since the most important aim was to develop a personal style. This movement was interrupted by the Soviet occupation and the critique of formalism which stemmed from the propaganda of the official method of creation – socialist realism. Up until the mid-1950s Cézanne's painting was criticised and rejected, only to be later rehabilitated with a vengeance – returning in the works of the artists of the 1950s-60s. A certain role was played not only by the well-known French Group (Maija Tabaka, Jānis Krievs, Imants Lancmanis and others), who satisfied their thirst for a different kind of painting in the museums of Leningrad and Moscow, but also by individual endeavours (Biruta Delle) or separate, vivid examples of influences (Rita Valnere). The third wave and Cézanne's rehabilitation concludes the exhibition, because from this moment on following the hermit of Aix became a matter of individual choice that never loses significance, since his principles of painting are the basis of modernism.
With more than 20 paintings from the Zuzāns Collection, the exhibition brings into focus stunning examples of interplay between Latvian and Cézanne's painting. The exhibition is complemented by information on Latvian encounters with Cézanne's works as well as an opportunity to get to know the visual language of the hermit of Aix.
Sniedze Kāle, curator of the exhibition
Publicity Image: Augusts Zauers (1888–1981). Portrait of a Woman. Early 1920s. Oil on paper on cardboard. 51 x 39 cm. Photo Jānis Pipars.