Janis Avotins

Untitled, 2017

  • Medium:Oil on Canvas
  • Dimensions:156 x 46.5 cm

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About the Artwork

Untitled, 2017

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Looking at Avotins’ oeuvre as a whole, one can see replications of similar images both within the same canvases and across different works. Fading bodies mirror the way that history can render individuals anonymous, absorbing them into a cloud of collective memory. For Avotins, the choice to repeat monochromatic images of the dancer is an appeal to both beauty and pathos, concepts that have deeply affected him since childhood.

For Avotins, pathos is a “general apparatus of communist ideology and semiotics,” a common desire to express character through image. By placing emphasis on human subjects and removing them from their source backgrounds, Avotins seeks to express a simultaneously powerful, unambiguous, and orthodox conception of what character alone can be. The ballerina in this work, transposed from source image into its new, evanescent context, gives off a kind of poignant melancholia against her dark background. Like Baudelaire and his famed conception of spleen et idéal, it is this sense of sadness and the potentiality of overcoming it that is perhaps most characteristic of Avotins and his work.