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Photoreport: The opening of the exhibition “Šventė” at Vilnius' VARTAI gallery 0

Exhibition opening photographs: Ramūnas Danisevičius
Documentation: Arnas Anskaitis

On February 13, the Latvian artist's Jānis Avotiņš exhibition "Šventė" (Celebration) opened at the Vilnius' VARTAI gallery. Jānis Avotiņš is one of the most striking and important figures on the Baltic contemporary art scene and this is the artist's biggest solo exhibition in the Baltic States up to today. Exhibition provides a unique opportunity to get acquainted with paintings, sculptures and drawings, most of which have been created specifically for this event.

The timing and title of the exhibition refer to the celebration of the centenary of the declaration of independence by the Baltic States. Curator of the exhibition is Māris Vītols. He reminds that not long ago, celebrations were a powerful tool of manipulation in the hands of the Soviet authorities. "Just as everything else that was forced upon people in the name of ideological goals, the compulsory nature of public manifestations tended to destroy rather than foster a sense of togetherness. Spontaneous and voluntary expressions of communal spirit were a threat to Soviet power and therefore undesirable."

Over the course of many years, the Latvian artist Jānis Avotiņš has gained inspiration and motifs for his work in the visual legacy of the recent past, including photographs found in state and private archives, retouched Soviet-era press illustrations and city guidebooks. The artist moves images of the past to a different universe, a dimension of time characteristic only of a work of art, the ’now’ of art. His monochromatic figures become solemn memory images surfacing to our conscious from a distant or more recent past. Avotiņš’s work is characterized by a special intimacy, and viewers are invited to complement it with themes from their own personal experience. At the same time, they are open to the widest possible perceptions and interpretations, so that each viewer can fill in the blanks and create a common sense of memory.

Expressed in images of shared memory, the art of Jānis Avotiņš is like a festive celebration in that it offers something to unite us.

Exhibition "Šventė" is open till March 23, 2018.

Have a look at photo reportage from the exhibition opening.

From left: Jānis Avotiņš

Jānis Avotiņš

From left: businessman Inguss Reizenbergs, art collector and curator of the exhibition "Švente" Māris Vītols and Ieva Treija

Inguss Reizenbergs

Ieva Treija, Inguss Reizenbergs, Gilles Bonnevialle, Director of the French Institute in Latvia and Ginta Upeniece-Gerharde, Head of the Latvian Visual Arts Department at the Latvian National Museum of Art 

Art collectors and patrons Jānis Zuzāns and Dina Zuzāne

Gilles Bonnevialle, Director of the French Institute in Latvia and Leonarda Ķestere, Head of International Programme of Latvia 100 Office, Ministry of Culture

Valdis Zatlers and Lilita Zatlere

From the left: Māris Vītols, Jānis Zuzāns, Dina Zuzāne

From the left: artist Sandra Krastiņa, Edgars Vērpe and  Nida Rutkienė, the founder of VARTAI gallery

Ginta Saleniece, Second Secretary at the Embassy of Latvia in Lithuania

From the left: Jānis Zuzāns and Gilles Bonnevialle