The Baltic Notebooks of Anthony Blunt
27 Jul - 19 Aug, 2012, The Cēsis Brewery, Cēsis
Experiment and Excellence
The ‘Experiment and Excellence’ exhibition is one of the culmination points of the extensive project launched in 2011. Its concept is rooted in a desire to explore the role of experiments, research and creative quest in the development of the art processes, highlighting experiment as a crucial tool on the road that leads to the birth of excellence while simultaneously paying attention to the overlapping fields of various media – visual arts, music, literature – and accentuating the significance of mutual cooperation and integration. Or, more concisely, the question is – can excellence be born without experiments?
One of the points of departure for the show is ‘This is Tomorrow’, the legendary 1956 exhibition at the London Whitechapel Gallery. It was created by separate groups, each comprising representatives of a different area of culture, and is considered the first and most significant interdisciplinary event of the 20th-century European culture scene. As the Cēsis show was mounted, there was undeniably a certain wish to stimulate the creation of works of art that would be more than the testimony of the uniqueness and worldview of just a single personality – like the Swanlike, White Clouds Rush By installation by the musician Ģirts Bišs and artist Kristaps Ģelzis; the Radiowall created by the Orbita text group or Black Pillow, the joint project by the Lithuanians Audrius Bučas and Valdas Ozarinskas – an architect and an artist – on view in the Brewery Yard and, after leaving Cēsis, will travel on to Liverpool where it will be featured at the Liverpool Biennial of contemporary art.
The structure of the ‘Experiment and Excellence’ exhibition was deliberately built to demonstrate clearly the undeniable role of experiment in the creation of textbook art history. It is for this reason specifically that the exhibition features a number of iconic textbook examples and ‘export goods’ of Latvian art history, like the series of photographs by Atis Ieviņš capturing the Jesus’ Wedding performance initiated by the legend of the hippy era Andris Grīnbergs; the My Country-Folk cycle of photographs by Inta Ruka (visitors will have the opportunity to view a number of previously unexhibited works) and Sarmīte Māliņa’s Fear of Heights installation that went on view at the Bremen City Gallery in 2000 and has never before been on public display in Latvia.
At the same time, it seems essential to show the crucial role of the desire to go with the challenge and the unusual while working in some ostensibly traditional media like painting (Andris Eglītis) and drawing (Harijs Brants). Krišs Salmanis, on the other hand, has always emphasised that it is exactly the freedom to experiment that fascinates him in art as the field of his activities. It is a noteworthy fact that the particular exhibition space – the Cēsis Brewery – is sometimes the factor that almost forces artists to become participants of an experiment, whether they like it or not.
The range of participants was deliberately selected to represent a diversity of generations (Indriķis Ģelzis is the youngest of artists showing at the exhibition) and media. The majority of the works on view were created specifically for the project.
The Cēsis Brewery
Featuring: Krišs Salmanis; Kristaps Ģelzis and Ģirts Bišs; Andris Eglītis; Indriķis Ģelzis; Atis Ieviņš and Andris Grīnbergs; Inta Ruka; Harijs Brants; the Orbita Creative Group; Sarmīte Māliņa
Curator: Daiga Rudzāte
The Cēsis Brewery Yard
Featuring: Audrius Bučas, Valdas Ozarinskas
Curator: Kęstutis Kuizinas
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