On May 5, 2012 Mark Jenkins of the Washington Post published the following review of the Contemporary Latvian Artist Exhibition, open at the Art Space of the Embassy of Latvia (2304 Massachusetts Ave., NW) through May 12:
Art galleries offer twists and other excitement
There’s a childlike quality to Ernests Klavins’s small paintings, three of which are included in “Important Contemporary Artists of Latvia” at that nation’s embassy. The painter uses elementary forms and colors, although sometimes with grown-up intentions: “Lenin Leaves the Station” bids farewell to the father of Soviet communism. Such commentary is not typical of the exhibition, whose prevailing style is figurative and which highlights several painters who work large.
Harijs Brants’s charcoal portraits, so detailed that they initially look like photographs, reward close attention. So do the paintings of Miervaldis Polis, whose meticulous work has a surrealist sensibility. But the show is dominated by Andris Eglitis and Daiga Kruze, both of whom contribute canvases redolent of the north woods. Kruze paints more loosely to craft pictures such as “Animals,” which foregrounds a wolflike form against a twilight sky of glowing pink and orange. Eglitis’s “Living Conditions” series includes a dark forest scene whose use of light suggests Rembrandt, although his interior views of modest kitchens (sometimes populated, sometimes not) are more akin to Hopper. The influence of socialist realism seems to linger in both artists’ work, but with an individual, rather than collective, outlook.
Mark Jenkins is a freelance writer.