Līvija Endzelīna (1927–2008). Enigma
An exhibition of Līvija Endzelīna’s paintings "Enigma" will be on view in the 4th Floor Exhibition Halls of the main building of the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga (Jaņa Rozentāla laukums 1) from 6 April to 22 June 2018.

Līvija Endzelīna (1927–2008) is one of the best-known but also one of the most enigmatic figures in 20th century Latvian art. Already in the early 60s, when her work was just beginning to appear in exhibition, it drew undivided acclaim from the public as well recognition within the professional community. However, behind this work, so rapidly gaining in renown, was a solitary artist who avoided commenting publically on the development of her art, the influences behind it or the creative principles she was following. The attraction of her still lifes was due to their national and metaphysically surreal imagery, presented in a seemingly comprehensible visual language that imitated reality. Līvija Endzelīna brought to Latvian art a new, original and very subjective version of realism painting, differing from the academic method of Socialist Realism cultivated in the preceding decades and from the avant-garde hyperrealism that was emerging in her time.


Endzelīna’s painting constitute a varied and at the same time homogeneous artistic concept. Her complex perception of the world is torn apart by painful contradictions, giving rise to dramatic tension even in lyrical compositions. Master’s works may be approximately divided into major thematic groups that varied episodically throughout her artistic life, so that she returned many times to the same subject matter. Periodically the author focuses on the portrait genre, but basically her ‘theater stage’ is a still life arrangement with a carefully thought-out choice of objects.


One of the largest thematic groups consists of traditional still lifes, the arrangements manifesting the artist’s aesthetic and ethical view of the world of things. These are works depicting the bounty of nature and everyday objects, frequently presenting lyrical motifs with local symbolic significance. The paintings Beans, Country Bread, Honey and Mother’s Blouse represent this thematic line in Līvija Endzelīna’s art, constituting part of the classic corpus of work in this genre in Latvian art history.


Just as important are metaphysical and surreal works, with a system of images including old books, packages of letters, clocks that have stopped and mechanisms belonging to them, stuffed birds, mortars, glass lenses, etc. The cramped and seemingly dispassionate space and the coolly sterile atmosphere that prevails in the majority of works by Endzelīna are supplemented in these paintings by only intuitively perceptible tension in the subject matter, where the most important element is not that which is outwardly visible but that which can be sensed. The sense of mystery is created through the choice of objects and their arrangement into unexpected relationships creating associative imagery.


The attitude of this rationally inquiring artist always balances delicately at the boundary with an animated sense of the world. The emotional duality expressed by Līvija Endzelīna’s still lifes sets apart her oeuvre within the general scene of Latvian art.


The exhibition includes works from the collections of the Latvian National Museum of Art, the Museum of the Artists’ Union of Latvia, the Lithuanian Art Museum, as well as works from Zuzāns and other private collections.




Mag. art. Daina Auziņa, Collection Manager of the Latvian Visual Arts Department

Latvian National Museum of Art

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