Imants Vecozols. Refraction of Light
Refraction of Light, an exhibition dedicated to the seventy years of creative work of Latvian painter and pedagogue Imants Vecozols, is presented in the LNMA’s cycle The Generation in the right wing galleries of the 2nd floor of the main building of the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga (Jaņa Rozentāla laukums 1) from 11 March to 23 July 2023.
The name of Imants Vecozols is predominantly associated with still-lifes yet his painterly practice is broad and diverse. Artist has worked in different genres – landscapes, portraits, rural scenes and ambitious figural compositions. Author uses a variety of techniques – oil, tempera, watercolour, pastel and collage, employing both alla prima painting and gradually building up his work layer by layer. Imants Vecozols’ oeuvre is permeated by his interest in the portrayal of Latvian life, household and everyday.
Imants Vecozols was born in 1933 in Kārzdaba and spent his childhood in the native homestead of his mother in Liezēre. In 1949, Imants Vecozols entered the Janis Rozentāls Riga Art School, which he graduated in 1954 with the diploma work In the Mechanical Workshops. From 1954 to 1960, Vecozols studied at the Department of Painting of the Art Academy of the Latvian SSR, from which he graduated with distinction with the work On the Railway Embankment. During his studies the artist found inspiration from the supervisor of his diploma work, Eduards Kalniņš, pedagogue Konrāds Ubāns as well as painters Jānis Liepiņš and Ģederts Eliass.
Imants Vecozols has been taking part in exhibitions since 1958 and became a member of the Artists’ Union of Latvia in 1962. The painter’s early career corresponds to the development of the “harsh style” in Latvian art, with the author actively working on figural compositions and painting portraits. While the figural compositions of the 60s show a high level of detail, in the 70s, the style of Imants Vecozols changes in search for new forms of expression. In painting the portraits of people close to him – father, mother, wife Ruta, colleagues and now also his grandsons – Imants Vecozols underlines the characteristic features of each model.
In the 70s, Imants Vecozols holds first solo exhibitions as well as is showing his works abroad. Alongside painting the outskirts of the city, he produced white still-lifes, which are characterised by a simple world of objects, an almost monochrome colour scheme and an expressive impasto brushstroke. In the late 70s and 80s, a more laconic form of expression appears – all attention is concentrated on only one or a handful of objects. For example, the glass vessel on a plank that almost blends with the wall in the work Birch Sap (1978) or the reflection of light on a rough wall in the painting Kitchen Table (1978). Similar compositions also appear in the 21st century, with the addition of collages from newspaper clippings.
Imants Vecozols continues to actively paint and his works have started to show references to current events in Latvia and abroad. The seeming order that could be seen in the artist’s paintings in the 80s is now being deconstructed and altered. Collage mixes with painting, reality is broken up and transformed to offer a kind of resistance to processes which cannot be stopped.
The title of the exhibition was inspired by the physical phenomenon of the refraction of light – traveling from one medium to another with a different speed of light propagation, the direction of the light ray changes. Refraction of light makes it possible to observe changes in the forms, placement and dimensions of objects. Likewise, in seeking and painting light, Imants Vecozols has, over his seventy-year career, given viewers the opportunity to grasp time, space, Zeitgeist and the changes taking place therein.
The exhibition presents paintings from the Latvian National Museum of Art collection and the author’s private collection to explore the different stages of Imants Vecozols’ artistic practice, from early works to the most recent compositions.
Text by Agnese Zviedre
About the exhibition cycle The Generation
Each generation belongs to an era. The Latvian National Museum of Art’s (LNMA) exhibition cycle The Generation began in 2016, focusing on art of the second half of the 20th century. The cycle’s programme is realised in the 4th Floor Exhibition Halls and since 2021 also in the right wing exposition halls on the 2nd floor of the main building of LNMA. The exhibitions devoted to many important figures in Latvian art have been held, such as Boriss Bērziņš, Felicita Pauļuka, Daina Riņķe, Henrijs Klēbahs, Līvija Endzelīna, Hilda Vīka, Gunārs Krollis, Džemma Skulme, Romualds Geikins, Daina Dagnija, Jānis Pauļuks, Māra Kažociņa, Inta Celmiņa, Auseklis Baušķenieks, Gunārs Cīlītis, Jānis Aivars Karlovs, Biruta Baumane, Lea Dāvidova-Medene, Imants Vecozols. There are exhibitions in preparation for Aija Jurjāne, Rolands Kaņeps, Rūsiņš Rozīte, Līga Purmale.
Text by Elita Ansone