Portrait of Andris Klavins. Painter - Ivars Poikāns.

Andris Klavins 0

Interview by Agnese Čivle
14/05/2011 

Describe your collection.

The foundation of the collection is Latvian artwork. A large part of the collection is made up of works created in the period up to 1944. In addition, one boundary line that delineates one period from another is the modern day; another boundary is however long there have been Latvian artists. The collection consists of several hundred pieces.

When did you begin to create your collection? Which piece do you consider the first piece in the collection?

The collection began to take form at the end of the 1980's, when my mother gave me Henrijs Klebahs' “Vilnis” for my 30th birthday.

Which piece do you consider the “masterpiece” of your collection, and why?

The answer may sound trivial – all of your children are dear. Each art work comes with a story, such as the painting's backside – it may be written on, doodled on, dusty... Why has the painter created it, who has it belonged to...? Maybe it has been a struggle to obtain the piece... In my eyes, all of that gives a work of art its value. But I do have my favorites.

Which artists do you consider closest to you?

I think that would have to be the Baltic-German artist Johann Walter, born in Jelgava and known as Janis Valters in Latvia; he later emigrated to Germany. The art historian Kristiana Abele's monograph on Johann Walter (published by “Neputns”) provides a closer look at the artist, his work and life. In the second half of his life, Johann Walter switched from the Classical and Jugendstil painting styles to Expressionism, and helped raise a multitude of artists in Germany. Despite the prohibitions of Hitler's regime (Walter's work was even used as an example of what was considered bad), Walter stayed in people's memories doubly strong.

Do you change the pieces you have on display in your home, or do you keep the same ones up?

There is, perhaps, a preconceived notion that collectors cover their walls with pictures from top to bottom. I'd have to say that I don't have very many pieces of art on the walls at home, or in my office. I was once very influenced by the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg; it was built specially for Katherine the Great to display the collection that she had bought in Europe.