Photo: Voldemārs Johansons

Art Exhibitions to Go and See During the Christmas Holidays 0

Wondering where to go and what to see during the Christmas Holidays? presents a selection of seven exhibitions encompassing Latvia, Denmark, Finland and Russia, beginning with Arsenāls in Riga, and ending with the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow; from esoteric searches through childhood visions, to the legendary figure of Charlie Chaplin. Get ready to mark your calendars!

Voldemārs Johansons “Organiskie raksti/Attractors”
Arsenāls Exhibition Hall, Creative Workshop Rooms, Riga
December 19, 2012 – January 27, 2013

Sound and music play the dominant role in the art works of contemporary artist Voldemārs Johansons (1980). He has studied at the Institute of Sonology at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, and continues to do in-depth research of sound, its electromagnetic spectrum, and acoustics. Basically, these are invisible quantities that have become inspirational objects to the artist; for example – the recordings of processes that occur in the natural world. In his compositions and performances, Johansons attempts to embody the sounds in a visual presentation that describes these evasive forms as sensitively as possible. From December 19 through January 27, 2013, Johanson's impressive project, “Attractors”, will be on view at the Arsenāls Exhibition Hall, in the Creative Workshop (Radošā darbnīca).  The artist's collaboration with environmental scientists and programmers was very important in the creation of the exhibition, and Johanson's chosen theme is revealed to the viewer through installations, sculptures and graphic art drawings.

Torņa iela 1
Riga, Latvia

Charlie Chaplin
Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow
Ongoing, through February 17, 2013

The name Charlie Chaplin, aka Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin (1889-1977), is known by all. His character, The Tramp, has become an icon of silent film, but Chaplin himself – one of the most influential figures in the history of cinema. Unlike many of his peers, Chaplin survived the arrival of sound in cinema, and near the end of his life, he even made films with the famous Italian actress, Sofia Loren. The start of Chaplin's career is also swathed in legend: his parents were actors, but his father was succumbing to alcoholism and his mother was booed off the stage. To save his mother from the onslaught of objects being thrown at the stage, five-year-old Charlie ran out onstage and started to sing a popular song of the time. It was at that moment, surrounded by applause, that his fate was sealed. How did the myth of Charlie Chaplin start? Who is he, really? The answers to these questions can be found at Moscow's Multimedia Art Museum's (MAMM) exhibition of photographs, titled Charlie Chaplin, which will go on from November 30 through February 17, 2013. Consisting mainly of photographs from the comedian's family archives, this is the first large-scale exhibition that has been devoted entirely to telling the story of the actor, man, public persona and legend – that was Charlie Chaplin.

Ostozhenka St. 16
Moscow, Russia

Miķelis Fišers “Lielviela”/”Megamatter”
Latvian National Museum of Art, Arsenāls Exhibition Hall, Riga
Ongoing, through January 20, 2013

“I’m not claiming that by bombarding atoms, old galactic civilizations are being destroyed, or that the Milky Way is some tiny strand of wool in God’s sweater, but ever since childhood, I’ve been looking for cracks that I can put my head through and take a look at Megamatter from the sidelines,” says the artist Miķelis Fišers (1970) who, at the end of this month, is opening his solo show at Arsenāls – which is no small feat in itself, considering that this is the largest exhibition hall in all of Riga. The show will feature completely new paintings and objects, as well as works from previous years – such as from the series “The Cosmos Doesn't Forgive Mistakes” (2009-2012), which was exhibited in St. Petersburg last spring – in addition to other, older projects.

But what is “megamatter”? What does it even mean? At the heart of the notion of “megamatter” is the artist’s childhood vision that always kept reappearing: two objects, one rapidly growing larger as the other one shrinks, until observation becomes impossible because the observer’s range of visual perception does not permit relationships on such a scale. The process continues in the macro and micro worlds that exist beyond the boundaries of human senses – from the nano-world, all the way to spiraling galaxies. Quite possibly, this exhibition will become a key to unlocking the cosmos of Miķelis Fišers' creative work, since the artist has long been fascinated by themes such as alternative realities, esoterica, shamanism, alien civilizations and conspiracy theories.

A comprehensive catalog, in both Latvian and English, accompanies the solo show. It includes reproductions of the artist's work, as well as articles by Elita Ansone, Artis Svece, Inga Šteimane and Sergejs Timofejevs.

Torņa iela 1
Riga, Latvia

“ARTISTS 2012”
Taidehalli, Helsinki
Ongoing, through January 6, 2013

“What kind of world do we live in today?” is the question that 57 artists from Finland have attempted to answer in the exhibition Artists 2012, which will be showing at Helsinki'sTaidehalli exhibition hall from December 1, 2012, through January 6, 2013. One of the concepts behind the show is that the commentary on the relationships between people and their environment must be presented with a discerning type of humor. The exhibition contains works that were created between 2010 and 2012, and they may make use of assorted different visual art mediums; many are being publicly exhibited now for the first time ever. A panel of five judges from various art organizations and associations selected the works to be exhibited. The same panel will also chose which artist is to receive the Finnish Artist Society's Palokärki Award, in the amount of 4000 EUR. Already on the morning of November 30, the year's best artist will be announced. Gallery owners and art collectors will be happy to hear that a special catalog has also been published, listing all of the works from Artists 2012 that are for sale. In its 117th year, this exhibition is a powerful tradition, indeed.

Nervanderinkatu 3
Helsinki, Finland

Jaume Plensa “In the Midst of Dreams”
Espoo Museum of Modern Art (EMMA), Espoo, Finland
Ongoing, through January 27, 2013

The world-famous Spanish artist, Jaume Plensa, has captivated devotees with his ability to speak directly about such universal themes as the world of thoughts and emotions. In his sculptural figures, which either partially or wholly reflect the human body, he uses emptiness, poetry, music and light (shining either on, or out of, the figure) as a form of expression. Occasionally, his sculptures consist of letters, made from various materials, that spell out specific texts (usually poetry) – thereby highlighting the work's conceptual aspect. During this darkest time of the year, and through January 27, 2013, the Espoo Museum of Modern Art is hosting an exhibition of Plensa's work dedicated to light, titled In the Midst of Dreams.“Many of my works reflect the dualism between body and soul [...] For instance, within my light works, there is a somehow-moving light. This could be the soul, which we can never find within the body,” says Plensa. The exhibition contains 40 (!) pieces, all created within the last eight years.

Ahertajantie 5
Espoo, Finland 

“Bauhaus in Moscow”
Vkhutemas Gallery, Moscow
Ongoing, through December 29, 2012

The German “Bauhaus” school of crafts and fine arts, active from 1919 to 1933, gave rise to one of the most influential movements in modernistic architecture and design; it also influenced the continuing development of art, architecture, the graphic arts, and interior design. Among the students of “Bauhaus” were such world-class artists as Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian and Paul Klee, who even worked as an instructor at the school after graduating from it. The impact of the German school on soviet art in Moscow during the 1920's and 30's has been widely studied. Many of the collected materials on the subject – in the form of images, reproductions and other visual mediums – can be seen in the exhibition titled “Bauhaus in Moscow”, on view at Vkhutemas (ВХУТЕМАС) Gallery through December 29. The main objective of the exhibition is to look at the historical essence of “Bauhaus” from the viewpoint of Russia, thereby revealing the various problematic issues of the time – such as the overall appropriateness of following a school located in Germany, and the difficulty of pursuing creativity in a complex political era. The central axis of both the study and the exhibition is a historical chronicle of art exhibitions that were held in Moscow during the specific time period. The event is part of the “Year of German Culture in Russia 2012/13” program.

11 Rojdestvenka ul.
Moscow, Russia 

“Edvard Munch – Angst/Anxiety”
ARoS, Århus, Denmark
Ongoing, through February 17, 2013

The ARoS art museum in Århus, Denmark is currently showing paintings and drawings by Edvard Munch (1863-1944) in an exhibit titled Edvard Munch – Angst/Anxiety, going on through February 17, 2013. Although Munch, one of the progenitors of expressionism, is regarded as an established cornerstone of art history, it is actually quite rare to see so many of his works assembled in one place. Nevertheless, this year and the next (2013 will see the commemoration of 150 years since the artist's birth) are chock-full of exhibitions dedicated to Munch, especially in the major Scandinavian cities (and elsewhere, as well). The ARoS show is a result of the collaboration of various state museums, galleries and private collections, and is structured thematically and, in part, chronologically. Unquestionably, the exhibition is centered on the main driving force of the artist's life and work – anxiety. If, for most of us, anxiety tends to evoke volcanic emotions, in Munch's pieces it is reflected in the figure of an alienated man, and depicted in combination with such existential themes as love, life and death.

Aros Allé 2
Århus, Denmark