Stars. Lights On. Exhibition review in "Diena"


Screenshot of Diena the newspaper

In its May 21 issue, Latvian daily newspaper Diena published a review by theatre critic Zane Radzobe of Ivanovs latest exhibition.

"LIGHT has different dimensions than time does," the artist says. "The continuity of its meaning lasts longer than the images of everyday life". His fresh paintings depict the icons of pop culture, but as the painter admits, the exhibition is not really about them and agrees that to a certain extent this is a provocation 

Exhibition view at Riga Gallery

The artist says he is not talking about the stars' music nor its quality. "I am interested in lights", he reveals. In the halls of Riga Gallery we see the paitings of Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga and other well known artists -- based on advertising photos, which have been issued in millions of copies, and on snapshots of videos. Light as an element of paiting is playing an important role in the echibition. Light as a metaphor, that the artist is applying on the images of paitings, is confusing, though. The painter still claims the same, "The heading of the exhibition shows the direction for the exhibition, the idea and the overall mood. This is also why I do not want to interfere too much with viewers' understanding and associtaive fields. I would like you to have free perception of the exhibition. I have put many ideas and nuances in my works, but you need to feel them yourself. The main topis is light. And it is very concrete this time: the light that originates form the stars, the light that is directed onto stars, and the light that I have felt is of fundamental value in our era. Light as colour. Light as painting." 

Michael Jackson and a TV man

The choice of the well known images is conscious, but the artist does avoid talking about the personalities that seemingly do dictate the topic of the exhibition. What makes them "stars"? What is the source of their light: talent, marketing, visual image? "I don't think I need to explain my relations with every artist here. I am trying to work with the images that form our collective mind. These are not personal matters, but matters, which are the same for all society. I am interested, we are interested in obsession, because I can express my views here. I can show things that perhaps have stayed unnoticed until now. 

Why did you choose these these "icons"? From one side that is because the musicians mentioned are often admitted to be influential. From another side "it seems it is difficult for people nowadays to perceive, where is the photo and the painting, where is the persona and the image, the picture and the artistic result". For that reason, art needs to relate with the events in a straightforward way. "The main task of art per se is making connection," Ritums Ivanovs claims, and adds that he has been working with the visual image, not the social image of stars. "All in all this is the snapshot of our life. If it is a mis-match that one can feel intuitively, let it be. If you know what still life is, it's easy to make one. If you are depicting modern era, there is no clear formula. I am making my own, and some people might say that this is not painting at all. But in art you need to have courage".

Ritums Ivavons exhibition STARS. LIGHTS ON. in Riga Gallery until June 30, 2010.

Full text can be found in Latvian at

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Video: Michael Jackson image transforms onto a painting