artists & participants
The exhibition presents eternal efforts among human beings to understand themselves vis-à-vis the Universe. The heavens and heavenly bodies have been of interest to all nations in all ages. Astral myths in the world have been based on the diffusion of the same set of ideas, while informed astronomic approaches have been in place since the 4th millennium BC. Megaliths were built in Western Europe and around the Mediterranean Sea, and these can be interpreted as ancient observatories. An understanding of the Universe began to appear in art as an ancient and mythological view of the world, eventually developing into a consideration of scientific facts along with the use of newly invented technologies. Religion, science, astronomy, studies of space and science fiction are the most common instruments used by artists to interpret that which we can see in our solar system and beyond it. Sometimes artists visualise micro-processes from the world through imagery and comparison with the macro-processes of the Universe.
In what kind of Universe do we live? Scientists have forever sought an answer to that question. Artists have always been fascinated in the issue, too, because this is a secret of the “nature of reality,” with answers often being sought in outer space. This represents the need to understand what all of that which exists really is. The only thing is that art, unlike science, can be unbelievable, fantastic and visionary. The theory of evolution, the cosmos, scientific efforts to find the “God particle” in the sub-atomic world of the boson – all of these are topics in the artworks that are exhibited in the “Perspective of the Solar System”exhibition.
Why have Latvian artists studied the processes of the Universe? There is a certain dialectic to this. Saturated landscapes featuring moonlight have been present since the age of Romanticism. The Sun, seen as a mythological force, is often presented in the exalted art of the age of Symbolism, as seen in the paintings of Rūdolfs Pērle. Artists continue to be interested in this today, though because of scientific theories and technological developments in the 20th and 21st century, the art has largely become abstract. The origins of this abstract approach are seen in the work of Gustavs Klucis, the Latvian-born master of Russian avant-garde art. Early in his career, Klucis worked with Kazimir Malevich, who expressed the philosophy of Russian cosmism via his theory of Suprematism.
The “big bang” in art insofar as the cosmos is concerned occurred, of course, during the 1960s, when the Soviet Union and United States mobilised space research programmes as a side-product of the Cold War. The initial pathos that was used as a weapon in ideological strategies later was transformed into scientific fantasy, and it became more and more surreal. The Universe is an essential theme in the work of Zenta Logina, Visvaldis Ziediņš, Genādijs Suhanovs, Valdis Celms and Artūrs Riņķis.
As the Latvian National Renaissance grew stronger in the latter half of the 1980s, the ethnographic Lielvārde belt was increasingly interpreted as a recording of sacral messages. Valdis Celms continued to produce the cosmology of Latvian ornament. The 1990s, in turn, were a period during which religiousness began to flourish, as seen in the work of Māris Subačs and Aija Zariņa. During the past decade, a synthesis between art and science has been convincingly presented in the work of Gints Gabrāns and Voldemārs Johansons.
The “Perspective of the Solar System” exhibition features more than 70 artworks from the collection of the Latvian National Museum of Art, the collections of the artists themselves, and private collections. Several new artworks featuring the cosmos are being produced specifically for the exhibition.