The exhibition “Synergy” Contemporary Trends in Metal Art and Design” will take place at the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, Riga from December 2017 to January 2018. It will trace the current trends in the field, the artists' working directions and creative endeavours for experimental, innovatory and classical forms in jewellery art, objects and design. The realisation of the exhibition project was motivated by the fact that there has been a lack of exhibitions that would popularise contemporary trends in metal art and provide a broader overview of the work of a group of active artists. Therefore, one of the goals of the exhibition is to draw attention to metal art as a field of art, to see similarities and search for differences in the dialogue among the artists.
Metal art is a relevant and active phenomenon in Latvian cultural history with developed traditions – beginning from the historic goldsmiths' guilds in Riga and the smiths in forges all the way to forging and casts in the Soviet ideological climate and contemporary authors, whose expressions vary from individual search for form in the context of art to the fulfilling of standard commercial orders merging into the field of contemporary design and entrepreneurship.
An important 'school' of metal art as a medium of expression in Latvia is connected to the Department of Metal Design established in 1961 at the Art Academy of Latvia. Most currently active metal artists in Latvia have graduated from it (e.g., Māris Šustiņš, Aldis Lorencs, Armands Vecvanags and others). Nevertheless, there are also notable artists who have acquire education elsewhere, for example, the Estonian Academy of Arts in Tallinn (1944-1989 Tallinn Art Institute) (e.g., Juris Gagainis, Māris Auniņš, Andris Lauders, Guntis Lauders). Today's opportunities to study abroad also have to be taken into account (e.g., Jelizaveta Suska, Toms Lucāns), marking new artistic strategies in the work of the artists. Therefore, the exhibition is an important attempt to see a certain continuity, the similar and divergent currents and to highlight the leading artists in an extensive overview.
The exhibition will be structured by highlighting the plurality of technical and artistic solutions in three dominant lines of expression – jewellery art, objects (miniature to large-scale) and design, aiming to highlight peculiarities and specifics in synergy with the material, which can reveal itself in form, structure, rhythm, colour, light, visual, spatial and psychological perception of the object as well as the synthesis of various senses and fields.
Artists in the exhibition: Valdis Brože, Andris Lauders, Guntis Lauders, Aldis Lorencs, Māris Auniņš, Māris Šustiņš, Arvīds Endziņš, Andris Silapēteres, Juris Gagainis, Jānis Brants, Anna Fanagina, Jelizaveta Suska, Rasma Pušpure, Una Mikuda, Monta Apsēna, Vladislavs Čistjakovs, Armands Vecvanags, Sergejs Blinovs, Māris Gailis, Uģis Traumanis, Uģis Gailis, Jēkabs Voļatovskis, Māris Skanis, Mārtiņš Mālnieks, Modris Svilāns and others.
Creative team of the exhibition: Andra Silapētere, Iliāna Veinberga, Kristiāns Brekte, Jānis Dzirnieks.
Interview with the curator of the exhibition Andra Silapētere and Inese Baranovska, the Head of the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design:
• How Latvian jewellery is different in contemporary jewellery scene today?
I.B.: Contemporary jewellery scene today is extremely rich and diverse, and Latvian jewellery can be regarded as a part of this wide spectre. We can consider that Latvian jewellery artists like to choose traditional materials as silver, gold, semi-precious stones, bone, etc. Apart from this, we can admit that experimentation with different alternative materials is not favoured so much.
A.S.: It is a complex question. On one hand, it is almost impossible to describe it the way you ask, as the global understanding drives art and design nowadays. The difference might be seen in the school - Latvian artists have developed their means of expression which in this case is represented by Art Academy of Latvia as dominating education institution. It is also historical context what influences artistic expression, recent past that still has some imprints in today. Nevertheless, over the past decade young artists more and more go to study abroad. There also can be remarked some features which I mostly would attribute to figurative and picturesque thinking – artists incorporate and develop in their work from different images that can source from nature, mythical thinking or fantasy. But this can be expressed also in the way they use color and form that can have symbolic or philosophical meaning.
• What qualities do Latvian artists have in general?
I.B.: Latvian artists‘ works embody original artistic ideas in combination with perfect execution
• How would you describe Latvian jewellery in 4 words?
A.S.: Figurative thinking, color, form.
I.B.: Quality, sensitivity, creative individualities.
• What materials are most common in the showcased pieces?
A.S.: Artists use different materials and like to experiment to find new ways of expression. One of the tendencies is to use different stones - bigger and smaller, that can almost become a center of composition for any piece of jewellery . Artists have developed different techniques in polishing, cutting stones and shaping them in most complex forms, “raw” stones are used as well.
• How do you think Latvian jewellery (and not only Latvian) will evolve in the future?
A.S.: That’s not an easy question, but I think it mostly depends on technology, science and everyday life evolution. As these things change and evolve, the tendencies, practice and needs for jewelry change.
I.B.: I think that contemporary jewellery will evolve in different ways: there might be plenty of experimentation with new technologies and artificial materials, but I feel their high evaluation and deep respect for our past traditional values.
• Who is the initiator of the exhibition (the gallery, or maybe artists themselves)?
A.S.: Exhibition is initiated by the Art Academy of Latvia Metal Design department with the idea to gather artists who have graduated from the school and who are active in the field in one show. But this doesn’t exclude artists who might come from different education field - the idea is to place emphasis on tendencies and novelties in the field as it has developed now. Exhibition is important because in last decades there haven’t been made any exhibitions of this kind here in Latvia.
• Andra, what is your own experience with the jewellery world and exhibitions, as a curator?
A.S.: This will be my first exhibition curated for metal design as form of expression. I work at the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art as a curator and researcher, but in this case dealing more with visual arts. I have been involved in different bigger and smaller projects, but these exhibition is a new challenge.
As my father is a metal designer and a professor at the Art Academy of Latvia, I have spent all my childhood in this metal design world, I have seen backstage of different processes. For this reason it is interesting for me to make this exhibition happen and also to meet new people and see what are their interests. With this exhibition, my aim is to involve as many young talents as possible and also to involve them in creation of the exhibition.