The ties between Poland and Latvia - political, social, economic, and cultural ones - are so deeply rooted and have intertwined so much that during the everyday rush we hardly appreciate how important and full-bodied they have been throughout the history and what new meaning they are acquiring now. Examples are not far to seek. It is sufficient to call to one's memory two recent events, filled with powerful, characteristic energy: first of all, unforgettable was the "Polish Requiem" by Krzysztof Penderecki with Gabriel Hmur as the conductor, performed at the National Opera as part of Riga Opera Festival. The outstanding singers - Violeta Hodovich, Agnieszka Rehlis, Rafal Bartminski un Marek Gasztecki together with the State Academic Chorus and the Latvian National Orchestra sang out the pain and suffering which we commemorate on the 14 June, Latvian Mourning Day, when in 1941 thousands and thousands of innocent people, including small children, were deported to Siberia. This concert also paid a tribute to those slain in Katyn, Auschwitz and other death mills. There are many common pages in the history of Latvian and Polish people, which form this special historical bond. The second event was the call for spirituality, domesticity, and humanity, pronounced by Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Riga Zbignev Stankevich, during the Feast of the Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven in Aglona, when he addressed all participants of the event, including many pilgrims and believers coming from Poland. His family language in childhood was the language of Mitzkewitz and Chopin, but now Archbishop was talking to us in impeccable Latvian language about the values that we cannot afford to lose. This is a true visionary's view into the kind of future we all aspire.

Likewise, in fine arts and applied arts we have had a lot in common since the beginnings of the formation of folk art and professional art. This affinity expresses itself in the plots, stylistics, technical manner, exhibition activities, exchange programs of artists and works of arts, symposiums and individual contacts. One of the highlights demonstrating the tight cooperation between the two countries in the previous century definitely was "The Exhibition of Polish Modern Fine Arts", which was organized from 21 January till 11 February, 1934 in Rīga City Art Museum by a significant support of the Society for Promoting Polish Arts Abroad "Tosspo" (Warsaw) and Latvian and Polish Rapprochement Society (Riga). The exhibition was conceived as a token of the good relations between the two countries and was implemented under protectorate of the Latvian State President Alberts Kviesis, but the practical executors and the authors of the concept of the exhibition were Vladislaw Jaroczki, Vice Rector of Krakow Academy of Arts, and Vilhelms Purvītis, the Rector of the Latvian Academy of Arts.

It was an exhibition, which discovered the powerful artistic qualities of Polish artists in painting, sculpture, graphics and textile arts, and acquainted the viewers with such names as X. Dunikovski, K. Laszczka, T. Chizevski, K. Mackievich, T. Pruszkovski and many others - names, which will never disappear from the Polish art history The exhibition was favourably reviewed both by press, professionals and the viewers, because "it reflected what was the essence of the Polish creative arts" -such words were written in the exhibition catalogue by Dr Mechislav Treter the Director of the Society for Promoting Polish Arts Abroad "Tosspo".

To a certain extent it can be said that the exhibition of the Latvian painters, which will be open to public in the middle of winter, between the end of 2012 and the beginning of the 2013, in two towns in the south of Poland - Bielsko Biala town gallery "Bielska BWA" and the Muzeum of Silesia in Katowice - represents largely what is characteristic of Latvian arts today. In sum, it can be said that the array of art works demonstrates creativity in most diverse forms.

After the restoration of independence in 1991 in the Latvian art developed processes common for all countries which broke away from the "custody" of the Soviet Union. Novelties in the world of art were acquired at a rapid pace; exhibitions were organized both in the East and West; private art galleries flourished (this exhibition has been largely supported by one of the most longstanding and prominent Latvian galleries - Agija Sūna Art Gallery); regular participation in Venice Biennale was resume; publications appeared on the contribution of Latvian artists and art experts in art forums, workshops, Plein Aires, campaigns and auctions - in all the diverse activities which characterize the continuous boosting art life in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

The language of art itself became more open to new experiments, forms of expression and technologies. It all was embraced, tested and creatively processed by artists of different generations, those who strived to enrich, develop, and widen their potential. It gave surprising and unexpected turns in the so far balanced and dispassionate scene of Latvian art life. Of course, not all innovations could be assessed as gains, but this is only natural. Art has always been in this way when it takes a different form, and it will be possible to apprehend the true values only after decades. But with the confidence we can say that the degree of creativity in today's Latvian art is on a truly high level and can commensurate with those traditional values that are inherent in Latvian folklore, folk art and professional art classics. It continues to educate and inspire minds and hearts of people both at home, in Latvia, and abroad as well.

The exhibition "Such a Place - Latvia" is to a great extent an objective quintessence of the Latvian contemporary art. It is a pool of the varied views of artists of all generations, starting with Old Masters and concluding with the novice. It allows the audience to explore the traditionally strong branches in the Latvian art like painting and graphics, as well as presents findings in the glass and objects art - the sectors that unequivocally have experienced a boom in the last twenty years. Here you can see the broad spectrum, which marks the full picture in each of the art forms and techniques represented, evidenced by an expressive brushstroke (V. Bušs, I. Celmiņa), tonality (E. Grūbe, A. Akopjans ), multifaceted visualization of reality (D. Lūse, T. Sēmane), the dense layers of paint in abstract compositions (M. Upzars, L. Mīlbrets) and many others who take different roads. The philosophical sophistication and freedom of and tectonic structure revealing itself in the potential of diverse materials (D. Gudovskis, K. Gulbis, P. Sidars) - it creates the essence of the content and form found and cultivated by such different personalities.

What are the values shared by all of them? Succession. Belonging. Professionalism. Piety. Perspective. Pacifism. Pathos. Palpitations. Pizzicato. Prometheus. Punctuation. Path. Psyche. Proclamation. Projection. Efficiencies. Opposites. Vision. Validity.

And, of course, many more of features, characteristics, signs, which pertain to true art. They can be perceived, understood, and interpreted by any viewer of the exhibition and give them new insights, be it Latvia, Poland or anywhere else.

That is the true treasure offered to us by the present art show, which, hopefully, will allow the visitors to keep in mind that there exists such a place on Earth - Latvia.

Ingrīda Burāne,

Art Critic

Head of the Information Centre of Latvian Academy of Arts

September, 2012

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