Contemplating Portraiture in Kuldiga

Opening January 6 at 5PM at Kuldīga Art House: Ritums Ivanovs' solo show "Contemplating Portraiture".

The large-scale exhibition, which started its journey at the beginning of 2022 at the "Dubulti" Art Station of Jurmala and gained considerable feedback of society and the media, continues its tour through the largest exhibition halls of Latvian cities. Portraits of Latvian women artists immortalized in monumental formats, and a series of smaller-scale recent works shall be displayed.
Ritums Ivanovs is one of the most visible and internationally recognized contemporary Latvian artists, who has been several times entrusted with the nationally responsible mission of painting the official portraits of two presidents of the Republic of Latvia. His creative focus has always been portraiture plus the new artistic languages and expressions in terms of materials and technicality. The search for means of expression has varied from Op-art aesthetics to Photorealism.

In contrast to the often dispassionate and formally documenting nature of photography, or Hyperrealism, an important component in the portraits created by Ivanovs is the immediate emotional and psychological status of the portrayed subject. In the double portraits the author chose to use still footage from video interviews with female artists as the raw material. Each of the depicted women has inspired the painter´s creative life.

Maija Tabaka, Inta Ruka, Aija Zariņa, Ieva Iltnere, Džemma Skulme, Vija Celmiņa, Mētra Saberova, Dace Lielā, Helena Heinrihsone and Ieva Epnere are the artists who each represent their own era, style and medium. Together they personify the multifaceted strong feminine side of Latvian art, whereas the artist's series of self-portraits (charcoal dust on paper) provide some contrast with its masculine side of the artist and his ability to accurately reflect on himself.

Ivanovs´ art has an important balance between the formal and the substantive, between the feminine and the masculine, perfection and generalization, but it always maintains a discernible and unrepeatable handwriting, regardless of the morphological medium, be it a painting, drawing or sculptural works.

In an interview with Inga Šteimane, curator of the Art Station "Dubulti", the artist commented that "Complexity and simplicity are not two opposites. As clarity emerges, means of expression multiply instead of diminishing. Portrait is the central question of my paintings and as such, it is the most difficult one to find answers to."

The exhibition takes place in the Kuldiga Art House, a part of a former Jewish synagogue complex. This house was built as a Jewish prayer house in 1865 and since its restoration of the building, the Art House has been here with a spacious exhibition hall on two floors. The art house co-operates closely with the Art Residency Gallery of Kuldiga, organising exhibitions and multimedial projects, introducing the works of Latvian and foreign artists to local residents and guests.

Curator of the exhibition: Raimonds Kalējs.

The exhibition is organized by: Kuldīga Artists' Residence in cooperation with the local government of Kuldīga region. Cooperation partners and supporters: Kuldīga, State Culture Capital Foundation (KKF).

PS. Kuldīga is worth visiting, it is one of the most charming and magical towns in Latvia. An ancient town in Latvia's western region of Kurzeme with distinctive architecture, which is a candidate for inclusion in the list of the UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. The foundation of the building was laid as early as in 1252. The Old Town around the small river itself is the only remaining 17th–18th-century ensemble of this kind in the Baltic states. 
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