Janis Avotins 

Opening in Schwaz: Friday, the 7 th of March 2008
Opening in Aachen: 25.4.08

The young Latvian artist Janis Avons (born in 1981, lives and works in Riga) concentrates the complex process of interpersonal communication in lonesome landscapes and architectural views.

In cooperation with the Ludwig Forum in Aachen, a catalogue and an edition will be released.

Opening in Schwaz: Friday, the 7 th of March 2008
opening speech: director Harald Kunde, Lundwig Forum for Internationale Kunst, Aachen

Opening in Aachen: 25.4.08 (26.4. – 29.6.08)

The young Latvian artist Janis Avons (born in 1981, lives and works in Riga) concentrates the complex process of interpersonal communication in lonesome landscapes and architectural views.

In cooperation with the Ludwig Forum in Aachen, a catalogue and an edition will be released.

Jānis Avotiņš’ paintings speak a deeply-rooted archaic language and take over a pre-Christian motif from the history of religion in Latvia. Even though the viewer is tempted to rediscover the ‘sfumato’ of Renaissance painting in the blurs and dissolving pictorial spaces, pictorial space as a whole remains concentrated in a numinous understanding of image. Numinosity holds the divine to be a power beyond comprehension, inspiring trust and awe at the same time. One of the characteristic traits of Latvia’s pre-Christian religion was the assumption that Nature is numinously animate, i.e. that Nature belongs to the spheres of the divine and describes the wonder of being to humankind. The fundamental concept of a landscape intimately bound up with the divine contradicts the assumption of the empty pictorial spaces showing humankind in all its solitude and anonymity. In Jānis Avotiņš’ work, the numinous principle means the landscape is understood as a mixture of the exalted and the terrifying, in which people feel both safe and restored to themselves. This pre-Christian principle underlying the Latvian comprehension of landscape imbues Jānis Avotiņš’ pictorial spaces with a positive attitude, briskly recharging itself with a further motif. The figures moving through Avotiņš’ landscapes are not left to their own devices; instead, the artist concentrates his figures in the open space, usually in groups of three. This instance of numerical symbolism awakens unambiguous associations with the Holy Trinity in Christian theology.

Moreover, Jānis Avotiņš’ style of painting has obviously been influenced by German romantic painters like Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840), as well as by James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903), an American artist working in London. Like Friedrich, Avotiņš perceives landscape as a symbolically religious experience, received by his figures, usually shown with their backs to the viewer, in quietly devotional observation. Whistler often used the tone-in-tone effect typical of Friedrich’s style, while at the same time refusing his pictorial language to slip into sentimentality and – much like Avotiņš – aiming at the dissolution of pictorial space through the atmosphere given to colour harmonies.

The fundamental existential motif, that we believe to have seen in Avotiņš’ paintings is ultimately born out of our own internalised sentimentality, which – to quote Friedrich Schiller – ‘aims to retrieve pristine naturalness lost, through reflection.’

Karin Pernegger

CV Jãnis Avotiņš
born in Latvia 1981, lives and works in Riga.
1999-2003 BA Painting, The Latvian Academy of Art, Latvia
2002 Erasmus Exchange Program, Manchester University, UK
1995-1999 Janis Rozentals School of Fine Art, Latvia

Einzelausstellungen (Auswahl)
2008 Stadtgalerie Schwaz, Schwaz, Austria; Ludwig Forum, Aachen, Germany (exh. cat.) *
Johnen + Schöttle, Cologne, Germany
2007 Super Normal, IBID PROJECTS, London, UK
Suzie Q Project Space, Zurich, Switzerland
2006 I Never Go On Holidays, Medium, Gustavia, St. Barthelemy
Johnen Galerie, Berlin, Germany
2005 Johnen + Schöttle, Cologne, Germany (exh. cat.)
IBID PROJECTS, London, UK (exh. cat.)
Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, Munich, Germany (exh. cat.)
Possession, IBID PROJECTS, Vilnius, Lithuania
2004 Possession, Riga, Latvia
Rheinschau, Art Cologne Projects, Cologne, Germany
2003 Conversance, Riga, Latvia