Summer season at the Rothko Centre

At 4 p.m. on 8 July, the Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Centre will launch its summer season with new exhibitions in painting, ceramics and photography. Each medium is represented with two shows, resulting in a balanced artistic experience for all types of visitors, from seasoned art critics to casual explorers touring the city.

“Tender is the Night: The Art of Kang Haitao” is a large retrospective and the artist’s first display on Latvian soil, introducing the local public to one of the most important artists of the 70s Generation in China. The artist’s work radiates tension – a yearning for a world beyond the everyday one, but, paradoxically, the lexicon used to explore this spiritual world is largely in his earlier paintings, the world of everyday provincial life: old factories, old schools, walls, isolated trees. More recently, the lexicon of the paintings has shifted, and there is now a complex interplay between inner and outer, between light and shadow, substance and reflection, and the colour palette is higher. From the Rothko Centre, the exhibition will travel to Cromwell Place, London.

“Chambers of Tales. Lithuanian Ceramic Art of the 21st Century” is the Rothko Centre’s most comprehensive exhibition of Lithuanian ceramics to date, featuring 65 artists in a symbolic digest of the trends and developments in the country’s ceramic art across the past two decades. The collection reveals unexpected, sometimes paradoxical juxtapositions between different ceramic works, ranging from the idea of a decorative vessel to sculptural objects incorporating conceptual and action-based art forms. The exhibition is structured to offer a personal stroll through eight chambers, with the interconnected narrative of the works on display rooted in Lithuanian folk tales. On the one hand, the tales emphasise the archaic beginnings of Lithuanian ceramic art, highlighting the “natural” properties of clay and its versatility. On the other hand, the genre of folk tales is usually perceived as reflecting the primordial Lithuanian mythical worldview. In a sense, it is still going strong today, with historical facts, fantastical elements in personal interpretative accounts of actual events, and universal human experiences meshed in a single complex reality.

The major solo exhibition by the Australian-born Paris-based artist Anthony White, “Mobilising Material”, is another first appearance on Latvian soil. It contains previously featured artworks that formed the inaugural exhibition “The Curious Eye Never Runs Dry” of the United Kingdom-based gallery “Informality” in 2019. The 30 works across 380 square metres of the Rothko Centre exhibition space see the artist reflect upon the effects of Western capitalist civilisation on our modern environment by revisiting themes of involuntary detention, injustice and migration. White’s artistic work revolves around the notion of reclaiming the act of dissent through the production of cultural objects.

Photographer Eduards Kapša is a true master of motion photography, blessed with a keen and perceptive eye and a generous heart that gladly shares the frozen moments with the viewers. To quote the artist: “I photograph creators, and I work on an equal footing with my models, aiming for freedom of expression and giving them space to really build a character and step into its shoes. When my model works in front of a camera, does all the jumps and exercises and forgets the photographer is even there… Now that is my moment because that’s when the person is true and unaffected. Motion photography is also an intricate technical process. The model can’t simply fake it or strike a pose just for the camera.” The artist’s work is seen in his solo show “Movement. Ballet”.

The “Moments” photography series by Norwegian artist Anja Carr was created over an extended period, from 2013 to 2017, and each image documents a single moment from one of Carr’s different performances where the artist has wittily challenged the toy industry by transforming its colourful characters. She is aware of the impossibility of documenting a performance with a single image but reminds us that this is how processes of identity construction work in social networks – through fragmented image “feeds”. The toy industry stereotypes involving a strict division of roles between children and adults, girls and boys, are twisted in these performances, featuring original costumes and scenography made by the artist.

The solo show of Rūdis Pētersons, aka Del Ruden, “You Are Welcome to My Garden of Love”, has a title carefully chosen to bring together all the exhibits, in this case – paintings and ceramics. When the author was getting ready with the concept and the works, his thoughts revolved around nature and its almighty power on the one hand and porcelain on the other – this delicate, sophisticated and often highly demanding material. The first works were made three years ago, before the concept was fully developed. It clicked as the artist was working and listening to some background music – the moment he heard the lyrics “You’re welcome, you’re welcome. To my garden, my garden of love”, he felt they were a perfect fit for his vases. As the creative process was nearing the end, the war broke out in Ukraine. It had a strong impact on the artist’s creativity and gave a new poignancy to the concept – the flowers growing from porcelain vases as a silent cry for a seemingly utopian Garden of Eden where everyone is welcome to sow their seeds of love.

The new season’s exhibitions are on show through 16 October 2022.