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Australian Latvian artists in Sydney - 11 September - 9 October 2011

Australian Latvian Artists Association annual exhibition

See images of all the works ...

The Australian Latvian Artists Association (ALMA) annual exhibition can be seen at the Sydney Latvian House exhibition space from 11 September till 9 October, 2011. The exhibition features 22 artists from Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth and Sydney with 43 paintings and sculptures.

This year ALMA is presenting two awards. Sydney artists Dzidra Mitchell received the $400 Jury prize for the best work in any medium. The People's Prize, worth $200, was won by Biruta Clark, based on balots cast by exhibition viewers during the period of the exhibition.

The works in the exhibition cover wide range of themes. Anita Bērziņš-Misiņs has three works: “The Heart of the Matter” is a pastel showing a larger than life cabbage which exudes the bountifulness of nature; the oil painting “The light was called, the light came”, with the reflected clouds in the water and twisted tree branches reminds one of something ancient and mystical, and her pastel “Entrance” suggests a metaphor for the different worlds on both sides of the gateway.

Biruta Clark won the People's Prize with her painting “The playful waters of Kiama”, which depicts dynamic swirling sea waves, and her watercolour “Opulent Irises” highlights the beauty of flowers. Perth artist Andris Derums’ oil painting “The other bank”, with its yellow, purple and redish tall river banks, reflects the grandness of nature. Fiona Derums is a textile artist from Melbourne and is exhibiting two postacrd sized works featuring various shades of white raw silk and cotton and a range of textures and shapes. The works are untitled but during the exhibition opening the artists explained that the two works are part of a series in which she is exploring the strength of the triangular form. Also from Perth is Inta Goddard, who is showing a vivid abstract titled “Studio still life with window”, together with a sculputure in wood featuring two towers which spiral towards each other but do not meet.

Brisbane artist Elmar Klucis painting “The Awakening” is a humorous fantasy, in which the theme is loosely based on a combination of Henry Fuseli’s painting “Nightmare” and the scene from Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” where the queen of the fairies is placed under a spell and falls in love with a donkey. His “Ruined landscape” is an environmental comment on things which were once beautiful. Ieva Knochs “Nature’s Silence” presents a greatly magnified shell in a decorative setting, as a symbol of the magnificence of nature.

The painting “Summer past” by Andra Krūmiņš, with it’s sparsely applied spots of paint form a hidden shape of a rearing horse and brings to mind significant events from the past. Andra Krūmiņš also features two small ink drawings from a series that explores the personality of the Devil. Astra Lācis’ “Spring” is a sensitively drawn and painted pastoral scene showing a shepherd tending her flock of geese, in which the pen strokes and subtle watercolour pulses with life energy – from the shine in the geeses’ eyes to the billowing clouds. Canberra artist Astrīda Mednis has two woodcuts on the majesty of whales, and on show are also two of Lidija Mednis paintings of her beloved Snowy Mountains.

Dzidras Mitchell’s landscape “Lineage”, with its cultivated rows sweepinga cross the hills reminds one of anciently etched paths which are embedded deeply in our collective lives. This work won the Jury award for best work in the exhibition. In Mitchell’s other painting, “Gethsemane”, the pink, purple and greenish tones evoke images of mysteries presences.

Aina Nicmanis is showing a sensitive seaside watercolour with a light touch and received commendation from the Jury. Harijs Piekalns is another Canberra artist and has exhibited two of his many-toned “ochre” abstracts, in which one can imagine all the phases of the Australian bush, from smooth yellow skinned eucalyptus tree trunks to fire ravaged stumps. About his approach Piekalns writes: “I am presently using ochres collected from the far south coast of New South Wales, which I prepare for oil painting using traditional techniques dating from the time of the Renaissance. The paintings evolve as manifestations of the landscape from which the ochres originate.”

Newcastle artist Egīls Rasmanis, has returned to painting after many years and is exhibiting three oil paintings, amongst which, “Valley Road, Katoomba” received a commendation from the Jury. The painting shows a row of stately, pale, smooth skinned eucalyptus trees which line the road like guardians showing the way. Egīls wife Rhonwyn Rasmanis has exhibited two oil paintings – “River scene” is a grand, hazy landscape, and “Rīga Gate” conjures up thoughts of centuries of life in that coastal city – together with a collection of eight small watercolour impressions of travels in Latvia, titled “Spoils of travel”.

Āris Ruicēns is a sculptor working in wood and is showing two decorative bowls made by a combination of turning and carving in highly textured Spotted Gum and Port Jackson Fig timbers. The titles – “Ram Bowl” and “Mello Cello” suggest the playfulness of the pieces. His third work is a relief carving in mahogany of four decorative and brightly coloured pheasants.

Raimonds Rumba has a large format abstract panel almost two metres in height, titled “Gateway to Heaven”, and Adelaide artist Ilze Strautiņš-Coombe is exhibiting two decorative paintings with motifs drawn from Edward Lear’s well known poem “The Owl and the Pussycat”. Graphic artist Jānis Supe’s two large pen and ink works have titles which offer a clue to their enigmatic content. “Follow the signs” contains a large number of different symbols, amongst them Latvian symbols imbued with cultural and language traditions, which in their totality form a road receding to the distance. And his “Mid-day in Venice”, with its distorted water reflections of buildings hidden from view by an elaborate arched bridge, suggest thoughts of that which is not visible and which lies beyond the surface. Supe has followed the Venetian tradition of concealing in the painting a “memento mori” reminder of our mortality. This work was highly commended by the Jury.

The last in this alphabetical list of artists is Liena Sveilis-Waddingham, whose vivid green and purple plants in “Illuminative”, and brightly coloured “Ginger Lily” pulse with living energy. The author of this article also took part in the exhibition with a charcoal drawing of a male nude, titled “Remember the Sun”.

This exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Lidija Mednis, who passed away in August 2011. Lidija was a long-serving member of the ALMA executive and ardent advocate for art. The exhibition was opened on 11 September 2011 by Dr Artis Medenis, who had a long standing friendship with Lidija.

Many thanks to Harijs Piekalns for his expert help in hanging the exhibition. And thanks also to the Jury Committee - Jeannete Siebols, artist and lecturer at the Australian Catholic University, and Rosemary Vickers, former head of Printmaking at the College of Fine Arts.

The final opportunity to see the exhibition will be on Sunday, 9 October 2011 during the concert by the Sydney Latvian Male Choir. So, please come and look and vote for your favourite work.

Ojārs Greste
ALMA secretary and exhibition organizer.

Download the exhibition catalogue (Word document)...

See images of all the works...


Dzidra Mitchell with her painting "Lineage", winner of the Jury prize for best work in the exhibition. View larger .

Overview: View larger>>

Overview: View larger >>

Overview: from left - Harijs Piekalns, Āris Ruicēns (sculpture), Rhonwyn Rasmanis, Egīls Rasmanis: larger>>

Overview: from left - Inta Goddard, Biruta Clark's painting "The playful waters of Kiama", winner of the People's Prize, Anita Bērziņš-Misiņš, Inta Goddard (sculpture): larger>>

Jānis Supe: "Mid-day in Venice". This work was highly commended by the Jury. View larger>>

Liena Sveilis-Waddingham, Ilze Strautiņš-Coombe. Larger>>

Aina Nicmanis: "Summer Landscape". Larger>>

Lidija Mednis: "Spencer’s Creek". Larger>>

The exhibition continues in the cafe. Larger>>

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