Part of the public diplomacy and culture programme of the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the ‘Ornamentalism. Purvītis Prize. Latvian Contemporary Art’ exhibition will be featured at the 56th Venice Biennale. This is the first time that a Latvian project has been included in the official Collateral Events Programme of the Venice International Art Exhibition.
The exhibition is based on eight years’ worth of records of the contemporary art process initiated and organised by the Purvītis Prize, the most prestigious of contemporary art awards in Latvia. The curator of the exhibition, the internationally acclaimed art theorist Viktor Misiano has chosen eight of the artists nominated for the Purvītis Prize during the history of the award – the ones who, to him, are the most representative of the trends of thinking and expression in contemporary Latvian art. The exhibition features works by the winners of the Purvītis Prize – Katrīna Neiburga, Kristaps Ģelzis, Andris Eglītis and Miķelis Fišers, as well as by Ieva Epnere, Ģirts Muižnieks, Rimans Korovins and the Orbita group of artists who have all been nominated for the award.
Viktor Misiano explains: ‘We wanted the exhibition to present a selection of prominent phenomena in Latvian art: ones that both emphasise the most characteristic traits of the national mentality and, at the same time, showcase Latvia as a vivid element of the global art scene as a whole. The ‘Ornamentalism’ project offers eight distinctly individual positions; while complete opposites in many aspects, they are unanimous in that they share a point of departure: the more art is aware of its own illusory nature, the more it transcends the empirical reality, revealing the essential reality. Ornament is a will-to-art (Kunstwollen
), through which the soul of life shines.’