The exhibition “Unaccustomed Souls. Symbolism in the Art of the Baltic States »/ Article /

From November 21 to February 21, 2021, the main building of the Latvian National Museum of Art will host the exhibition “Unaccustomed Souls. Symbolism in the Art of the Baltic States ”- an ambitious joint centenary project of all three Baltic States, which before that with considerable success was shown at the prestigious Orsay Museum in Paris.

Celebrating the centenaries of the Baltic States, the exhibition “Unaccustomed Souls” offers to get to know the symbolism in Baltic art from the 1990s to the 1930s. The aim and main idea of ​​the project is to show that the future art of the Baltic States was at a professionally high level at that time and that its peculiarities are included in the overall performance of European art. The symbolism that was born in France in the second half of the 19th century affected all European culture, including the Baltic art community.

The symbolism of Europe and the emancipation of consciousness that it embodies in the Baltic States are closely linked to their freedom, explains project manager Ginta Gerharde-Upeniece in the exhibition application, noting:

Drawing on folk culture, folklore and local fairy tales, as well as unique natural landscapes, works of art were created that had true originality. ”

The range of themes in this direction, which includes the world of mythology, folklore, fantasy, dreams and visions, moods of decadence, is clearly reflected in the outstanding Latvian artists Janis Rozentāls, Vilhelms Purvītis, Johann Walter, Rihards Zariņš, Gustavs Šķilters, Teodors Zaļkalns, Teodors Zaļkalns Works by Teodora Ūdera, Aleksandra Romana, Sigismunda Vidberga. Lithuania, on the other hand, is represented in the exhibition by such bright classical classics as Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, Ferdinand Ruszczyc, Petras Kalpokas, Stanislavs Jarockis ), Oskar Kallis, Konrad Vilhelm Mägi and others.

Exhibitions “Unaccustomed Souls. Symbolism in the Art of the Baltic States ”is the general curator and the author of its concept is Rodolphe Rapetti (France) – a well-known researcher of European symbolism, who has a long-term interest in Baltic art.

The panorama of large-scale motifs and manuscripts in the exhibition consists of more than 160 exhibits from the Latvian National Museum of Art (LNMM, Riga), Estonian Art Museum (Tallinn), Tartu Art Museum (Tartu), Lithuanian National Museum of Art (Vilnius), MK Čurlonis National Museum of Art ( Kaunas) collection and private collections. In Riga, too, as a sign of the visual identity of the project, as it was in Paris, the painting “Farmer’s Girl” by the outstanding Latvian old master Johann Walter (1869–1932), made around 1904, was chosen. The illustrated image of the girl symbolizes the upliftment of national self-confidence and the creative spirit that took place a hundred years ago in three independent countries – Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.

In 2018, during the exhibition in Paris, the Baltic Museum Ensemble came to the conclusion that the project should be shown at home, and agreed to continue it in three capitals. An exhibition at the Orsay Museum with great success was displayed Exhibitions at the Estonian Art Museum KUMU in Tallinn (11.10.2018– 03.02.2019) next display location was the National Art Gallery of the Lithuanian National Museum of Art in Vilnius (25.07–11.10.2020). The route is closed by the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga (21.11.2020–21.02.2021). Each of the neighboring museums offers its own vision and contribution of scientific capacity.

As each museum has created a locally adapted exhibition design and visual image in the saga of Baltic symbolism on the basis of the basic concept of the Paris exhibition, the Latvian National Museum of Art adds the “Riga Accent” to the Orsay Museum version and adds its mood and hue.

A new interpretation of the exhibition exposition is being created in Riga.

Its designer is Ineta Sipunova, who works together with the project consultant and the author of the scenography of Baltic symbolism at the Orsay Museum Flavio Bonuccelli.

Neputns publishing house creates a catalog in Latvian and English, and an extensive program of events is planned in parallel with the exhibition. One of the most important events will be the international scientific conference “Symbolism in Europe and the Identity of the Baltic Nations”. Lecturers from France and the Baltic States were invited to participate, who were involved in the development of the exhibition concept and catalog, as well as participated in various professional discussions, preparing the scientific basis of the project. The discourse of art history in lectures, events, meetings will be supplemented with a broader context, including music, literature, cultural expressions and social views.

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