Janis Avotins

Untitled, 2017

Acrylic on Canvas

187 x 340 cm


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Artwork
Description

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The poetics of indeterminacy – according to which vagueness and words belonging to its semantic field would represent the essence of the poetic – has always found many enthusiasts among artists. From Petrarch to Leopardi to Rimbaud, words evoking a sense of ephemerality, indeterminacy and vagueness have been the foundations of a certain way of interpreting poetry and art.

Janis Avotins can certainly be said to belong to this illustrious artistic tradition, which in the field of figurative art features the Japanese masters of the Hasegawa school of painting. His large abstract paintings retain that speckled, mist-like atmosphere which can be also found in his figurative works, and which represents the signature style of the Latvian artist. However, his abstract works are dominated by the absence of the human figure, reminiscent of the editing powers of history and of the impotence of individuals in front of it. Technically speaking, the eerie and ghostly appearance of his abstract paintings is achieved by covering the canvases with a thin imprimatura wash of dark oil paint and by leaving some areas unshaded. The result is a scenario which speaks of absence and presence, luminescence and darkness, vague enough to be powerfully poetic.

About
the artist

Janis Avotins (Latvia, b.1981) is a painter who lives and works in Riga, Latvia. Born into the Soviet Union, Avotins graduated from the Stadium an der Lettischen Kunstakademie (Riga) in 2003 with an MA in Painting.

Avotins paints photorealistic images, which are sourced from found antique photographs and propaganda posters from the Soviet-era. The artist recreates the aesthetic of these images in his works; citing the worn printed material as poetic, he considers the faded qualities in relation to mythological remnants. The paintings’ foggy haze is achieved by covering the lint-specked canvas with a thin imprimatura wash of dark oil paint; the ghostly figures are rendered incandescent by leaving certain parts un-shaded.

The works are dark, spectral and eerie; white faces, hands or bodies appear engulfed by surrounding blackness. The work is reminiscent of a broader trend in Eastern European painting, which deals with the collective memory of Soviet rule and the gradual excavation of forgotten moments. The elusiveness with which the characters appear becomes indicative of the functioning of history, which edits and brands individuals anonymous, where both ideas and images move in and out of existence and focus.

The loaded dark is menacing; a threatening shadow that appears in a state of transgression, ready to overwhelm the fragile figures at any moment. In re-appropriating these figures from their prior context, casting them into deep voids and omissions, Avotins ruminates on shared symbolic systems and communal ideologies. The characters are isolated and appear rubbed, as if in the act of disappearing. The work continually presents a delicate balance between something and nothingness; the fleeting appearance of the phantom enters the world of the sublime.

Janis Avotins was the receipient of the Prix Jean-François Prat in 2016. He has also been featured in private and public collections around the world including Rubell Family Collection; Cranford Collection; Hort Family Collection; François Pinault Collection; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and The Federal Republic of Germany Contemporary Art Collection.


The loaded dark is menacing; a threatening shadow that appears in a state of transgression, ready to overwhelm the fragile figures at any moment.

Janis Avotins was the receipient of the Prix Jean-François Prat in 2016. He has also been featured in private and public collections around the world including Rubell Family Collection; Cranford Collection; Hort Family Collection; François Pinault Collection; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and The Federal Republic of Germany Contemporary Art Collection.


Janis Avotins
on Artuner

Part of the
exhibition

May 3rd, 2017 until
August 4th, 2017
Curated by ARTUNER