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Art brings autumn to Riga’s year as capital of culture

By Andra Kunstberga. 29.08.2014

Gustav Klucis
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New exhibitions bring Soviet, Asia-Pacific and contemporary art to Riga

As the skies turn darker and heavy bursts of rain fall on Riga, the focus of the Riga2014 European Capital of Culture program is turning to art.

Three key exhibitions will enrich the city's cultural landscape over the next couple of months. The first of these, the exhibition Anatomy of an Experiment, was unveiled last week at the Arsenals gallery and will be open until October 26. This is a must-see show of works by the avant-garde Latvian constuctivist, photographer and political artist Gustavs Klucis (1895-1938), providing a link between Latvia and constructivism, an art movement that originated in revolutionary Russia. Ironically, like so many of the old guard, Klucis was arrested and executed by Stalin during the Great Purge.

Voldemars Matvejevs was also no ordinary artist. He was a painter, theorist and researcher who studied art and culture in Africa, the Pacific and Northern Asia in the early 20th century. His books dating from 1914-20 enlightened many Latvian and Russian avant-garde artists about the importance of these cultures, influencing the further development of modern art.

The exhibition In Search of Future Art: Voldemars Matvejs and non-European (African, Pacific, North Asian) Art, will be unveiled on September 5 at the Riga Bourse Art Museum and run until October 26.

September will also be a month for contemporary art. Survival Kit 6 will take place between September 4 and 27 with the theme Utopian City. This is an annual contemporary art festival organized by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art. Its strategy each year is to highlight an area in Riga with empty buildings, linking it with the city’s development and urban planning trends and problems, and suggesting alternative options. This year more than 70 artists from 25 countries are participating, at the Vagnera Hall and the former Bolševicka Textile Factory, and, for the first time, also in Umeå in Sweden, this year's other European Capital of Culture.

[pictured: A work by Gustavs Klucis]


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