Remarks by the Ambassador of the Republic of Latvia Andrejs Pildegovics at the opening of the exhibition of the leading Latvian contemporary painters at the National Arts Club of New York
April 2, 2012
Dear friends of the Baltics,
Ladies and gentlemen,
My fellow Latvians,
First of all, I would like to thank Hamid Lajevardi from the US-Baltic Foundation for your passionate long-term devotion to Latvia and the other Baltic States and your audacious idea to bring to the U.S. the leading examples of contemporary Latvian paintings. I express my personal appreciation to all individuals, companies and organizations that pledged support to this noble endeavor. Your collective energy, generosity and dedication have made this exhibition possible today. I am grateful to this remarkable institution - the National Arts Club of New York - for hosting this cultural event. This place is renowned for its openness, tolerance and inclusiveness. For more than 100 years the motto of this Club has been fostering and promoting open, wide unrestricted artistic exchanges. Moreover, from its inception this club has defended gender equality.
In the recent history, this exhibition is a truly extraordinary, unparalleled event in North America. For the first time, 36 diverse works of leading Latvian contemporary painters will be displayed in three cities around the U.S. Without exaggeration, I would call it a miracle. Considering the global environment, today we are witnessing nothing short of a miracle. In the middle of a world economic crisis, age of austerity, budget cuts, Occupy DC or Wall Street movements we have gathered today to enjoy the freedom of artistic creation, to celebrate artistic exchanges across distance, cultures and time, to salute the power of human talent and imagination.
I look at this product as an example of a successful synergy of Latvian-American creative, freedom-loving spirit to follow their dreams, regardless of so often unfriendly, adverse conditions and environment. This event is as miraculous as Latvia’s resurrection two decades ago. On May 4 1990, the Latvian Parliament voted on the restoration of the Independence and statehood of Latvia. In practical life, numbers are probably more important than in arts. This date does not sound like a round anniversary, though for the Balts these 22 years of freedom mean a lot. In this case numbers and anniversaries are of special symbolism. This year, the continuous, uninterrupted period of Latvia’s independence will surpass the 20 year period of independence between the two world wars. Time is definitely on Latvia`s side. Artists, painters, sculptors, writers were the custodians of the Latvian identity, national aspirations throughout the five long decades of Soviet occupation. Today, they continue to shape the Latvian cultural identity in a much wider European and global environment.
In the 21st century, Latvia and the Baltics represent an extremely dynamic part of political, economic and social changes. Indeed, life has been anything but boring in the region. In 20 short years, we have experienced the transformation from a totalitarian, repressive system to the mainstream of the European project. This change has profoundly affected all generations, professional groups, spheres of social life, including artistic circles. During the last years, Latvia was one of the first countries confronted with the severe challenges of the world economic recession. Latvia became one of the early laboratories of dealing with the tough sets of economic, social and political issues.
This exhibition attests to the fact that cultural life in Latvia has not stopped during the economic crisis. In this magic world of colors and inspiration some new developments have taken place. I am extremely happy that some known and some less familiar names will be introduced at this exhibition. In other artistic forms the vibrations have been strong as well. Latvia is famous for choral singing, and next summer everyone is invited to enjoy the famous Latvian Song Festival in Riga. The new building of the National Library will be opened at the end of 2013. In the summer of 2014, Latvia will host the World Choir Olympics. In 2014, Riga will bear the title of the cultural capital of Europe.
Once again, I would like to express my profound appreciation to Hamid Lajevardi and everyone who contributed to the success of this endeavor.
Please enjoy the paintings and I look forward to welcoming you in Latvia soon! Welcome to Latvia which is never standstill, monochromic, or uneventful!
Photos of the April 2 Opening in New York here