The exhibition “Liquids” is open at the Riga Porcelain Museum from June 10 to August 7, 2022.
Image: “Transformation No.1” (fragment) by Valda Podkalne. Porcelain, epoxy resin. 2022. Photo: Gvido Kajons
It brings together several artists who have different signature styles, but share a common material – porcelain – and a unifying theme – liquids.
Liquids can remain very invisible in people’s everyday lives, but once we begin enumerating them, we realise how important, or inevitable, they are. Certain liquids are necessary for our survival, while others are more of a luxury. Different liquids have different subjective and objective properties: fragrant, sticky, healthy, poisonous, transparent, thick, et cetera.
Porcelain’s relationship to liquids is twofold. One of the aggregate states of porcelain is a liquid mass which is transformed into an object only after casting the mass into a mould and firing it. The chemical and physical properties of porcelain enable us to create objects for domestic use, for example for storing, pouring in and pouring out liquids.
“Liquid has the power to force its own way, so it flows wherever it wants. As human beings, we are most closely connected to water, which is paramount to our existence. And since water makes for a significant percentage of our body mass, I like to consider artists as liquids. The exhibition becomes a unique cocktail, served for the enjoyment of the viewers,” says Ieva Nagliņa, curator of the exhibition.
The exhibition of contemporary ceramics “Liquids” presents artists of different generations with different signature styles. The artists have taken the suggested theme in various directions: from the existentially sensitive to the aesthetically and conceptually witty. The ten participating artists are Anna Ceipe, Agnese Čemme, Lauris Krauze, Simona Ķīvite, Jānis Leimanis, Dainis Lesiņš, Valentīns Petjko, Valda Podkalne, Ainārs Rimicāns and Andris Vēzis.
Artist Anna Ceipe creates installations and groups of various conceptual objects. In recent years, she has often chosen glass as the material for her pieces, and has also created ceramic works. She works with the object and space when creating artworks. She studied at the Visual Communication Department of the Art Academy of Latvia and at the Installation Department of KASK (The Royal Academy of Fine Arts) in Belgium.
For the exhibition at the Riga Porcelain Museum, Anna Ceipe has created porcelain objects which are based on two aesthetic threads: the idea of the work is rooted in associations with the traces left by various liquids on the walls of buildings – drips, spots, mould – the uncontrolled influence of moisture, which creates a certain aesthetic, breaking the initially sterile architectural form. The second aesthetic thread is wall fragments: museum pieces which have become important artefacts as a result of archaeological excavations and are cautiously stored and carefully displayed in vitrines equipped with special lighting and humidity control. The artwork was created in 2022 and has potential archaeological value for the future; its display, injected into the museum's main exhibition, creates an associative paraphrase and wittily challenges the viewer's perception.
Artist Agnese Čemme graduated from the Ceramics Department of the Art Academy of Latvia. She has added to her knowledge at the Sculpture Department of ArtEz (University of the Arts) in the Netherlands. Next to the ceramics studio, which she established in 2020 in the Torņakalns district of Riga, in the spring of 2021 she has opened and maintains the contemporary art gallery "Ag". The artist enjoys combining the contemporary art experience with a hands-on exploration of materials.
She is active in the realm of contemporary art and uses various means of expression in her work: text, collage, painting and ceramics. Often, the key element is a poetic text, which can also be perceived as an image, thus making contemporary remarks on the perception of the individual in today's time and space, and on the language between objects and images. In her works, she invites us to question our perception and the accepted system of beliefs. Working in ceramics, she creates a variety of small vessels which are characterised by a laconic silhouette and purity of form.
The exhibited work reflects the artist's feelings in the present moment, which are expressed through the representation of a water-tower. Symbolically, the water-tower dreams of the sea and a holiday which cannot yet be seen on the horizon.
Lauris Krauze is a young artist who has just graduated from the Ceramics Department of the Art Academy of Latvia with a Bachelor's degree. In the process of his work, it is important for the artist to develop the idea as it was originally conceived, leaving no room for chance, which is why he has naturally turned to the use of modern technologies in his creative pursuits. The three-dimensional digital environment allows for the most precise execution of a concept, as the artist is fascinated by the idea of synthetic precision.
The exhibited work uses 3D modelling. The artist draws inspiration from ancient Greek vases, because this is the fundamental object which is close to his heart and symbolises the essence of ceramics. The artist has created porcelain vases of various sizes, the surface of which is shaped like the sea waves. In nature, we can only observe the shape of waves with our eyes, because the surface of the water is in constant motion. This time, a mathematically precise simulation of waves has been embodied in a porcelain object, creating a tactile sculpture.
Young artist Simona Ķīvite holds a Bachelor's degree from the Ceramics Department of the Art Academy of Latvia. She works as a tattoo artist. Among the topics that interest her is the human body, which she has so far interpreted in her ceramic works in various ways. The pieces are characterised by bold irony, including self-irony. In the series “My Altar of Fear” (2019), the artist created self-portraits as icons, wittily illustrating one of her fears in each work.
The exhibition work was created by searching for associations with bodily fluids. Its message is one of mutual empathy between people and it invites us to think about how one person's pain affects their loved ones. The chosen fluid is blood – a metaphor for pain and suffering. The composition elements – vesicles or blobs – are stacked on top of each other and showcase that the blood that flows from the scar on one shall also affect others. When we are closer, we feel the suffering more directly, but when we are further away, we feel it less.
For artist Jānis Leimanis, the main area of interest is ceramic design. He studied at the Ceramics Department of the Art Academy of Latvia, and furthered his knowledge at the ESAD (Escola Superior de Artes e Design) in Portugal, studying at the Department of Product Design – Ceramics and Glass. There, he learned about the development of ceramic products using 3D modelling and printing. His everyday work involves making prototypes of three-dimensional products.
3D modelling has also been used when creating the works for the exhibition. Different volume porcelain jars with screw-on lids (1 litre, half litre and smaller sizes) are designed for storing liquid food products. The jars are decorated with a cobalt underglaze painting depicting various water birds. The artist's signature style demonstrates a combination of clear form, laconic silhouette and functionality with a sense of style.
Dainis Lesiņš, artist, professor at the Art Academy of Latvia and Head of the Ceramics Department, works with various ceramic materials and heartily enjoys technological experiments, for example, with different glazes. Form, colour and texture are important means of expression in his artistic oeuvre. He often creates monolithic sculptures with a clearly legible, expressive silhouette. The surface of his works is expressively treated with engravings and colourful glazes, most often dominated by blue tones.
The artist likes to discuss fundamental values in his work. The intent behind the exhibited piece is based on the idea of water as an existentially important liquid and the place of water extraction as an important element in human life. The work uses the aesthetics of a tube well. Although the geometric rhythm is regular, it is made with a deliberate departure from perfect symmetry. The rough surface texture evokes associations with a crumbling structure.
Valentīns Petjko is one of the founders of the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Ceramics, curator of expositions and exhibitions at the Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre, organiser of important contemporary ceramic events, such as the Latvia International Ceramic Bienniale. He graduated from the Art Academy of Latvia. He has previously studied the traditional ceramics of Latgale, and is currently working on his PhD on contemporary Latvian ceramics. But one should not forget that the starting point of it all, and perhaps the real reason, is the fact that he is an artist, a ceramicist. That is why he is participating in this exhibition as a creator.
The exhibited work, which uses three different porcelain masses, reveals the artist's interest in the properties of the material. The work process has been guided by the following reflections: "Man dissolves in everyday life, in society, history and memories. Any substance dissolves, depending on the environment and the set of conditions which interact with the substance and ostensibly change or perceptibly diminish its properties". The intention is made flesh under semi-controlled conditions, seeing as the artist likes to experiment, but only within his own limits: preserving the quality and not losing the main idea.
Valda Podkalne's creative work originates in design and ceramics. These two strands run through her artworks to this day. However, the most important thing is making the material follow an idea, which is why the artist breaks down the boundaries of media and creates her art pieces both as objects and by using photography, video and other materials in order to make conceptual installations. Fascinated by the aesthetics of different materials, the artist combines even seemingly incompatible materials in her work.
The exhibited work also makes use of the contrast between different materials. The idea combines two elements: earth and water. The earth element is a stable foundation from which the water springs flow. The water element, on the other hand, contains two opposites: the mixing of liquid and amorphous substances with solid, crystalline structures. While maintaining an internal dynamic, the art piece forms a single organism.
Ainārs Rimicāns graduated from the Ceramics Department of the Art Academy of Latvia and works as a lecturer both at this department and at the Riga School of Design and Art.
In his oeuvre, the artist works with the object environment. In his artworks, he recreates recognisable mundane elements in a paradoxical and witty way. He mainly works in ceramics, but also freely combines ceramics with other materials in his compositions. The artist likes to use the aesthetic qualities of everyday objects, both by capturing the shapes of various objects and then executing them in porcelain or another material, and by using ready-made elements.
This time, the artist has chosen to create porcelain funnels. They form a conceptual installation in which two liquids are combined. The funnel, as an instrument for directing the liquid, controlling it, filling another vessel, is only a mediator in this process. The work also has a processual nature; the meaning depends on what liquids are poured into the funnels and in what proportions.
Artist and designer Andris Vēzis pays great attention to the porcelain object. From his student days at the Art Academy of Latvia (1987), when he produced a large porcelain service set covered with bright glazes, which is on display in the permanent exhibition of the Riga Porcelain Museum, to the present day, when the artist continues to create both art and design objects.
The artist likes to experiment with the aesthetics of free-form shapes and surface treatments. The group of works "Breath" is decorated using marbling, a technique the artist has been using since the 1990s and has fully perfected. The free-cast porcelain plates are richly adorned; the flowing nature of the abstract decoration is reminiscent of precious stones found in mineral deposits and attracts the eye like the elements of nature: a stream of water or a fire, which one could watch endlessly, spotting ever-new nuances.