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Portable Landscapes. Aia Bertrand with students in Akademia. Photographer: Raimonds Dunkans, year 1924

100 years of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania 0

Highlights of the art and culture programmes in honour of Latvia’s, Estonia’s and Lithuania’s centenaries

All three Baltic States are grandly celebrating their centenaries this year. In honour of this notable event, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania have put together ambitious celebratory programmes. In addition to overviews of national historical events that have taken place over the years and preliminary looks at future development that may play out on an international level, these programmes also feature a wide range of cultural and artistic events.

As we head towards the culmination of the three centenaries at the closing end of the year, presents the most prominent art events taking place this winter and spring as part of Latvia’s, Estonia’s and Lithuania’s official centenary festivities.


01/2018 – 2019

From the start of 2018 and through to 2019, several leading world cities – Riga, Paris, New York, Gotland and Berlin – will host the exhibition series Portable Landscapes, as organised by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art, which presents artworks produced by Latvian exiles and emigrants beginning from the early 20th century up to the present day. The exhibition examines the stories of emigrant Latvian artists and their role within the broader context of 20th-century art history and globalization. As the exhibition’s organisers explain: ‘Portable Landscapes is both an attempt to relate individual stories of migration to a common network and the wish to create an understanding of our current situation which is, in large part, based on historical events.’

The first exhibition of the series, Akademia: Performing Life, will be on view at the Villa Vassilieff in Paris, France, from January 13 to March 23. Featured artists include Ieva Epnere, Daiga Grantiņa, Andrejs Strokins, Myriam Lefkowitz, and Yaïr Barelli, with special attention given to the Latvian émigré dancer and publicist Aia Bertrand. 

Location for Akademia: Performing Life: Villa Vassilieff 21 avenue du Maine 75015, Paris 
For more information: 

13/02/2018 – 23/03/2018

As part of Latvia’s centenary celebrations, the contemporary art gallery ‘Vartai’ in Vilnius will present a solo show of works by the internationally acclaimed artist Jānis Avotiņš titled Svētki (Celebrations). This will be the artist’s most expansive exhibition in the Baltics, and will take place from February 13 to March 23.

Jānis Avotiņš is one of the most striking figures on the Latvian contemporary art scene and regularly participates in exhibitions in Austria, the Netherlands, Germany, the USA and other countries. This show will feature new works in painting, drawing and sculpture, as well as materials from the artist’s private archive and works that have played an important part in his artistic development.

Vartai gallery, Vilniaus g. 39, Vilnius
Additional information:

23/02/2018 – 20/05/2018

It seems that people have always thought much more about the future than the past. Careful guessing at what the future will bring has been set down in literature, theater and film as well as in the visual arts. From February 23 to May 20, the Arsenāls Exhibition Hall will present the exhibition The Future State, in which several Latvian artists have been invited to imagine what the world will be like in the near future.

The exhibition’s organisers venture that in the next twenty years, humanity will change much more than during the entire history of its existence – we will have become all-mighty. In reality, the future cannot be predicted and is often much more like ‘a mystical ship that appears to us out of nowhere’. Reflecting upon this ‘ship of the future’ will be such artists as Aija Zariņa, Kirils Panteļejevs, Katrīna Neiburga, Ivars Drulle, and Miķelis Fišers, among others.

Arsenāls Exhibition Hall, Torņa iela 1, Riga Old Town
Additional information:

09/04/2018 – 15/07/2018

Symbolism in the art of the Baltic States. J. Rozentāls. Death, 1897.

One of the most notable events concerning all three Baltic States in 2018 will be the exhibition Symbolism in the art of the Baltic States, which will take place from April 9 to July 15 at the Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris.

The exhibition is a joint project of the four national museums of the three Baltic Countries – in Riga, Tallinn, Vilnius and Kaunas – and its objective is to introduce the European audience to the visual art of the Baltic States produced at the turn of the 20th century and up to the three countries’ independence in 1918. Through the project, western Europe will be shown the high professional standards and characteristics of the Baltic artists, which were quite in line with the general art movements of the time – symbolism, impressionism and post-impressionism.  

Featured in the exhibition will be such outstanding and important Baltic artists such as Janis Rozentāls, Vilhelms Purvītis, Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, Konrad Mägi, and Johans Valters, among others. 133 works in total have been selected for the show.

Museo de Orsay, 62, rue de Lille 75343 Paris Cedex 07, Paris 

For additional information:

11/04/2018 – 11/05/2018

From April 11 to May 11, the Latvian Railway History Museum will host Gap, the solo show of Laris Strunke, a painter of Latvian origin.

The exhibition will show 26 of Laris Strunke's newest paintings, which are unified by a shared  exploration of one artistic motif – the gap.

Since the architecture and structure of a space have always been important to the artist, the Latvian Railway History Museum was chosen as the venue for its ability to create a sense of spaciousness in joint with the exhibited paintings.

Laris Strunke is a painter of Latvian origin, an Honorary Member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts, and one of the most significant artists in both Sweden and Latvia.

Latvian Railway History Museum, Uzvaras bulvāris 2A, Rīga 

For additional information:

07/07/2018 – 30/09/2018

Imants Tillers. Hiatus, 1987

From July 7 to September 30, Journey to Nowhere, a solo show of works by Latvian-Australian artist Imants Tillers, will be on view at the Latvian National Museum of Art in the Great Exhibition Hall of the main building.

Born in a Latvian émigré family, Imants Tillers is currently one of Australia’s leading artists who, through his work, invites, even provokes, the viewer to intellectually think about cultural processes going on in the world.

Tillers has represented Australia at such world art events as documenta7 (1982) and the 42nd Venice Biennale, thereby gaining wide international recognition. The works chosen for Journey to Nowhere demonstrate the development of Tillers’ creative oeuvre over a period of more than forty years.

Latvian National Museum of Art, Jaņa Rozentāla laukums 1, Riga
Additional information:

26/10/2018 – 24/02/2019

Biruta Baumane. Imants Ziedonis, Latvian poet and writer, 1966

At the turn of the new year, from October 26 to February 24, three exhibition halls – the Latvian National Museum of Art, Arsenāls Exhibition Hall, and the Museum of Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova – will be hosting the ambitious exhibition Facial Expression. Portraiture in Latvia. The 20th Century.

At the centre of the exhibition is the portrait, one of the most interesting genres of visual art and one which has always served as both a witness to its time and an intimate portrayal of personality. The exhibition will give a broad overview of portraiture as a means of documentary, social and even political testament in the framework of the 20th century.

Works from the LNMA collection and private collections will be on view. Among the many featured artists will be Janis Rozentāls, Voldemārs Tone, Miervaldis Polis, Maija Tabaka, Kārlis Baumanis, and Gunārs Binde.

Museum of Romans Suta and Aleksandra Beļcova, Elizabetes iela 57a, Riga
Arsenāls Exhibition Hall, Torņa iela 1, Riga Old Town
Latvian National Museum of Art, Jaņa Rozentāla laukums 1, Riga

Additional information:



The joint project Artists in Collections: 10 x 10, organised by curators Maarin Ektermann and Mary-Ann Talvistu, will take place throughout 2018. Eleven representatives of the Estonian contemporary art scene, including winners of Estonia’s prestigious Köler Prize, Jass Kaselaan and Jaanus Samma, and prominent interdisciplinary artists such as Flo Kasearu and Marit Ilison, will be working with ten Estonian museums. The artists will work as museum staff as they study the local museum collections and, at the end of the project, put together a custom exhibition.


Apartment exhibitions, work by Peeter Allik

From January 2018 to April 2019 the alternative art enterprise Voronja Gallery will be presenting its apartment exhibition series Springs. Over the span of 15 months, fifteen exhibitions will take place in fifteen different Estonian districts. Local and internationally renown artists will return to their hometowns and transform their artistic experiences into visual encounters.

08/06/2018 – 16/09/2018

One of the most notable projects celebrating the centennial of the establishment of the Republic of Estonia will be the exhibition Michel Sittow: Estonian Painter at the Courts of Renaissance Europe. This will be the first monographic exhibition devoted to the artist who successfully worked at several European courts at the turn of the 16th century, including those of Spain and the Netherlands. The exhibition explores the artist's possible collaboration with Juan de Flandes (1460–1519) and other contemporaries. On May 13 the exhibition will open at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and from June 8 to September 16 it will be on view at the Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn.

17/02/2018 – 29/04/2018

The State is not a Work of Art, an exhibition curated by the internationally renown Katerina Gregos, and which will be on view at Tallinn Art Hall through April 29, examines the recent resurgence of nationalism and populism in Europe. It’s aim is to probe the complexities and problematics of the idea of a nation and national identity, topics which are permeated by a slew of complicated issues. By charting the currently changing political landscape in Europe, Gregos and the selected artists examine Europe’s currently volatile socio-political situation. The exhibition hopes to offer a more nuanced view of the issue, one that goes beyond the usual polarised and pathos-filled rhetoric.


From February 14

Photo: Vladimiro Ivanovo/Verslo Zinios

A travelling architectural exhibition dedicated to the Lithuanian centenary and the modernist architecture of Kaunas and its cultural-historical importance in the legacy of European history. The modernist architecture of Kaunas represents a unique phenomenon – starting as a modest and peripheral town, it turned into a modern European capital city within roughly a decade. Political, economic and cultural events contributed greatly to the creation of the city’s unique identity.

In 2015, the European Commission officially recognized ‘the Kaunas of 1919-1940’ with the label of European Heritage Site. 

February 14, 2018 at the National Gallery of Art. The preliminary route of the travelling exhibition: UNESCO Headquarters, Paris (April); AUDITORIUM Complex, Rome (May), National Library of Estonia (June), Museum of Architecture in Wroclaw (July-October), BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts, Brussels (November-December).

08/03/2018 – 04/2018

Starting with March 8, the National Library of Lithuania in Vilnius will be hosting the exhibition To  be banned. Baltic Books 1918-1940.

The exhibition will present materials published in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia from 1918 to 1940, and will also highlight the book design trends of the time. Exhibited publications will have interactive components that will explain the history of each item and the events that influenced its publishing.

The Baltic States’ gaining of independence in the last century contributed to the development of a sense of self-confidence regarding national culture. Official recognition of a national language within legislation promoted the spheres of journalism and literature. Consequently, a number of publications arose during the period before the Soviet occupation, which later the Soviet authorities did not recognize as complying with the new regulations. Many of these publications will be on view at the exhibition.

The exhibition is ongoing through April. 

Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania, Gedimino Ave. 51, Vilnius

13/07/2018 – 16/09/2018

The exhibition, which will be on display at the Lithuanian National Gallery of Art in Vilnius beginning July 13, focuses on Lithuanian design objects and the development of Lithuanian design. Much like the exhibition To be banned. Baltic Books 1918-1940, this set of objects will be complemented by interactive and explanatory components. Each subject is intended to be described by looking at the social, political, economic and cultural context in which it was created.

The exhibition will consist of three historically thematic parts: Lithuanian free-style design; Soviet-era Lithuanian design; and design created in Lithuania after the restoration of independence. The exhibition will cover a wide range of applied arts and design, including graphic and industrial design, thereby striving to present the brightest examples of Lithuanian design.

National Gallery of Art, Konstitucijos pr. 22, Vilnius


One of the most visible contemporary art events included in the centenary programmes of both Latvia and Lithuania is the Baltic Triennial 13, which will take place at three locations: Kim? Contemporary Art Centre in Riga, Tallinn Art Hall, and the Contemporary Art Centre (CAC) in Vilnius.

The Baltic Triennial will feature artists from all three Baltic States, both new and emerging

artists and those who have already received notable recognition. For the first time ever, the Baltic Triennial will be taking place in all three Baltic countries. The opening will be held at CAC in Vilnius. The Triennial’s artistic director is Vincent Honoré, founder of the David Roberts Art Foundation.

Additional information: