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You don’t trust pure conceptualism? In the sense that you believe that things must be done physically?

Maybe this is the most educational part – that they must be done. Someone has a concept, an idea, a position, and then s/he decides to do something. And the result is some silly handwork. There is something there from Sisyphus, where you have to roll the stone again and again, and you never reach the top of the hill. This trying and this failure... This is an endless tragedy.

This is the basis of the exhibition. The second layer is the context of still lifes and paintings. What is the connection between painting and thoughts, if they are such different languages? It is hard to find the right form for your doubts. 

What you are saying, in a strange way, reminds me of what I’ve read about Gerhard Richter’s images – that it is exactly their value of being done that gives them – at least tries to give them (this rather utopian belief) – the sense of reality, which has become lost in the world of contemporary images, where there is a continuous projections of images, but they have lost their link to reality. Is there some connection with your work here?

Richter is pessimistic, or ironic, with his photo-realistic images... The biggest hope was in Chuck Close's work, in his huge portraits. He was a really good example of optimism, this naive hope that he is doing something great. Now, it is heading more and more in this direction, like what Luc Tuymans, etc. are doing.

How do you see your works in the tradition of the “new realism”, if I may use this label?

For a long time now, I've really hated the use of photographs in painting. It is so overused in many ways. When I observe it in today's art, in most cases, it is just the surface. There are two main directions of these approaches. Quite a few are still using photos (I wouldn’t like to say – in a “conceptual” way, because all normal art is “conceptual” in some way; it is based on a conception or on some idea), but they don’t believe in this image anymore, they just use it in the poorest way. The image or object is very simple, nothing special – some sort of documentation, but without any hope or opposition. The other direction is when artists create their own, even weird, fantasy worlds. My position is closer to this one.

My still lifes are also realistic pictures, and you have to think that they really exist somewhere, they're not just painted on canvas. In them, there is just one step between recognizable reality and an understanding that there is something else around us. And this also serves to keep a balance between irony and an idealistic attitude. I think that an idealistic attitude is greatly missing. We need something positive, even if it sounds naive.

But everyone has to create his/her own idealistic attitude, otherwise it would be like in Soviet times, when there was one system and we had to believe in it. I don’t like any systems – they are dangerous. But everyone has to be brave and clever enough to create their own idealistic systems and believe in them. Then we would have these millions and millions of different systems, where everyone could say: This is my dream, what I really believe in. It can be dangerous for you, but this is mine. If you like, you can use it, but this is mine, this ONE. I think that the main goal is to reach this point, where the ideal and real worlds match.

Attention Matches. 2006

You mention that for you, both ironical distance and an idealistic attitude are important. But in your previous works, irony dominated...

It is my weakness. It is quite hard to balance it. Irony or humour is the only way how you can get the second look. It is not enough to understand things if you have this mono, single position. You have to see dimensions, as well as other positions. At first, you have to take the serious route, and only then can you take a more critical position, or ironic point of view (Hm, maybe this is not so serious at all!). If they both exist, it is a binocular view. But of course, it contains some contradictions; it is hard to be serious and non-serious at the same time. But it is possible, I think.

Could you reflect about your works from a longer time perspective, beginning with the 90's, when you started to exhibit? For instance, in Latvia during the 90's, the essential questions for artists were – what is art? what are its relations with reality?, etc. In the last decade, it has focused more on reality, as such. How was it for you?

It was quite an awful time – the end of the 80's and the 90's. I was just trying to survive. I was so occupied with myself, trying to understand how to live a normal existence as an artist, what do I have to do as an artist, what is good art and bad art... I took it in the most self-concentrated way. >>