From 3 February to 11 March 2017, Jānis Avotiņš works from the Salon’s collection will be on show in the exhibition Wanderers in Space-time in the Main Gallery of the Mūkusala Art Salon, complemented by new drawings and paintings.
Wanderers in Space-time is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Latvia since 2010, providing a rare opportunity to see Jānis Avotiņš’ works made over the period from 2008 up until the beginning of 2017. The core of the exhibition is the collection of the Mūkusala Art Salon, which is complemented by several new works as well as materials from the artist’s private archive. Photographs showing the motifs of the exhibited paintings not only allow for comparison between the original inspiration and the finished painting, but also reveal those among the endless flow of images, which have caught his attention.
The photographs found in family albums, the press or retouched guidebooks from the past are the main sources of motifs for the artist’s recent works. Although Avotiņš’ oeuvre includes examples of compositions created by free imagination, it is more characteristic of him to hold onto ready-made culture-historical documents. It not only generates associations with an escapist and romantic retreating into the past, but also with a certain ecology of the image, breathing new life into that, which already has been made, and not wasting energy on imagining new compositions or finding their meaning. The photographs bear witness to specific moments, and the passage of time has ensured their importance through preserving them to our days. Nevertheless, Avotiņš, an artist endowed with a distinct vision, turns these mundane images into astonishingly exquisite works with meticulously selected canvases, pigments and binders. Experiments with different mixtures of oils and various techniques of paint application and scraping are conducted until barely perceptible matter emerges. Delegates, pioneers and dancers lose their original narrative determination. They have been transferred to another universe where time does not exist, only a pulsation created by the texture of the canvas and a sensitive interplay of light and dark with the indistinct twilight zone. Such elements of the former power as designs for congresses and the faces of their participants melt into new imagery. The softly charged territory of silence nurtures details of the original image, turning them into flashes between the existing and the disappearing.
Jānis Avotiņš (1981) graduated from the Department of Painting of the Art Academy of Latvia (AAL) in 2003, with further studies at the AAL’s Department of Visual Communication, Manchester University and Paris Cité International des Arts. Since 2004, he regularly holds solo exhibitions abroad, most often in collaboration with Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, Munich, Vera Munro, Hamburg and AKINCI Amsterdam, as well as participating in international group exhibitions. His works are in the collections of the Latvian National Museum of Art, ABLV Bank, as well as several collections abroad, including Charles Saatchi and François Pinault. In 2016, he received the Prix Jean-François Prat as best contemporary painter.
Curator of the exhibition: Sniedze Kāle
Press image: Jānis Avotiņš. Penumbra IV. 2016. Oil on canvas. 111 x 103 cm. Collection of the Mūkusala Art Salon. Photo: Jānis Pipars