Press releases

The Purvītis Prize 2023 Candidates’ exhibition

Duration 01.04.2023. - 11.06.2023.
Published 13.02.2023.
The Purvītis Prize 2023 Candidates’ exhibition The Purvītis Prize 2023 Candidates’ exhibition

The EIGHTH Purvītis Prize exhibition is on view in the Great Hall of the main building of the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga (Jaņa Rozentāla laukums 1) from 1 April to 11 June 2023.

The exhibition comprises a striking selection of paintings, sculptures, installations, photo and video art works created by six artists and groups of authors shortlisted by a panel of independent experts for the eighth Purvītis Prize for outstanding achievement in visual art of Latvia in 2021 and 2022. The nominees are Evelīna Deičmane, Ance Eikena, Kristaps Epners, Daiga Grantiņa, Daria Melnikova, Evita Vasiļjeva and Kaspars Groševs. In all, 21 artists / collectives of artists, whose works have been recognised as important events within Latvia’s visual art scene during the period from 1 January 2021 until 31 December 2022, were nominated for the final competition of the Purvītis Prize 2023. The exhibition is curated by Daiga Rudzāte.

Having gained the highest score from the international jury, ANCE EIKENA was awarded the eighth Purvītis Prize at a special ceremony on 26 May 2023.

The Purvītis Prize 2023 nominees

Evelīna Deičmane

has been nominated for the Dance Organ / Tanzorgan exhibition at the Kim? Contemporary Art Centre (04.11.2022–31.01.2023).

Justification of the nomination: “In this exhibition by Evelīna Deičmane, her personal experience of growing up in a small country village in the 1990s is intertwined with the result of years of research into the ‘art of survival’. Deičmane speaks of tough events through her own corporeal experience, but everything is permeated by an exhilarating joy of being alive and able to exist in movement. Designed as a cohesive narrative, the exhibition organically guides the visitor through the complex space of the Kim? Art Centre. It combines a range of painterly, performative, sound and object-based media, creating an immersive experience for the viewer; the rooms literally suck you in and do not let you go. Each of the means of expression has been thoughtfully chosen and portrays the idea behind the particular object. I consider the nomination justified by Deičmane’s skill of creating an intimate and absorbing yet simultaneously existential space of experience; you could say there is something therapeutic to this show,” explains Līna Birzaka-Priekule, exhibition curator for Latvian National Museum of Art (LNMA).

“The most inspiring text of the last few months for me has been John Dewey’s Art as Experience (1934), a small volume that ends on an observation that a genuine experience of a work of art takes place at the moment when the organism has found its fulfilment in its struggles and achievements in a world of things. And it was at Evelīna Deičmane’s solo exhibition that the text really came to life for me, which indicates that it was a moment when art really did happen – not just between the artist and the environment she had created but also as a shared experience distributed between many, while regarding it as a mundane phenomenon that is nevertheless a sufficiently powerful aesthetic experience, something more than a reality picked up by the eye or satisfaction from an encounter with something beautiful,” says Antra Priede, Prorector in Study Work at the Art Academy of Latvia.

Ance Eikena

has been nominated for her solo exhibition Our Heavenly Father at the Brīvība art space (10.12.2021–08.01.2022).

Justification of the nomination: “This exhibition by Ance Eikena is a soul-exposing story of her relationship with alcoholic father, prompting us to examine the wider context of alcohol-related problems in the post-Soviet countries, as well as the reasons behind so many Latvian families having a similar experience. The exhibition in its entirety can viewed as an installation that successfully integrates documental photos from Ance’s childhood, paintings and objects left behind after her father’s demise, all of these elements forming a vague distinction between factuality and fiction and transforming this personal narrative into an experience shared by all of us.

This nomination justified by Ance’s ability and courage to encode a feeling of loneliness, isolation, estrangement and monotony of life into the image of her father, letting the viewer in so close to her trauma and, at the same time, infinite love that it makes you feel uncomfortable and even somewhat embarrassed,” art curator Līna Birzaka-Priekule expresses an expert opinion.

Kristaps Epners

has been nominated for the Maslova video work at the former Riga Stock Exchange building as part of the Survival Kit 13 Festival (03.09.–16.10.2022).

Justification of the nomination: “Kristaps Epners’ work is based on extended research into the Old Believers’ community in Maslova, in Latgale. We found admirable the artist’s ability to find access to this closed and forgotten community that exists somewhere far removed from our eyes. I would like to describe the end result as a video poem that manages to capture a sense of otherworldliness where the sacred legacy and the person who holds it sacred are of equal value.

A church surrounded by woods, also serving as a shelter for grain from the winter frosts and the autumn damp, becomes a sacred island of refuge from centuries-long persecution and prejudice and a road to a personal faith. The artist’s respectful approach to this complex subject that resonates so strongly and bitterly with the current world events is the basis for this nomination,” comments exhibition curator Līna Birzaka-Priekule.

Daiga Grantiņa

has been nominated for her solo exhibition Lauka telpa at the Art Museum RIGA BOURSE (07.05.–31.07.2022).

Justification of the nomination: “The openwork silhouettes of Daiga Grantiņa’s sculptures reveal themselves to the viewer one through another, framing the opulent architecture of the space. The exhibition shows contemporary sculpture as a completely transparent process: there are not many secrets in the technical execution of the pieces. What it does, however, is perfectly demonstrate the close link between the artist’s imagination (starting with reproductions of sketches included in the exposition), her unique vision and an impetuous handicraft inspired by DIY aesthetics,” the art critic Vilnis Vējš explains the panel’s choice.

“The nomination justified by Daiga Grantiņa’s ability to create a physically responsive, technically perfect immersive art experience where an essential role is played not just by the three-dimensional experience provided by the sculptural pieces but also by their potential for psychological absorption of the viewer’s experience,” tells LNMA exhibition curator Līna Birzaka-Priekule.

“The exhibition continues in the musical piece that everybody can take away and transform into dance in their own safe space. [..] The magical thing about this exhibition, so long in the making, is the intimate space of experience created by the artist’s delicate momentary images captured in volatile shapes that form an excellent interplay with the rooms of the Riga Bourse. The fact of re-creation of individual pieces does not remain a background melody; we experience each work of art in motion, on its own and independent of the artist: a finite, complete form, an end result is not presumed,” adds art historian Antra Priede.

Darja Meļņikova

has been nominated for The Anticipation exhibition at the 427 Gallery (11.05.–05.06.2021).

Justification of the nomination: “In Daria Melnikova’s exhibition, the actual gallery space transforms into an idea. It is an idea for a harmonious, balanced space with clear and clean proportions and reduced elements of the symmetry and layout borrowed from classical architecture. Once again, Daria Melnikova has managed to subtly merge the contemporary with references to historical art movements (Renaissance, Gothic, metaphysical art) and, similarly to the way the perspective historically changed the way we view the world, completely transform the space beyond recognition. A vital role is played by the impact of this artwork on the viewer as he or she progresses through the space in the direction of the ‘convergence point’ that never arrives. The artist has hidden her answer to the question why in a perfectly crafted object displayed on the furthermost wall, entitled Not Yet. This is where the exhibition acquires a commentary not just on the path to a three-dimensional world in the context of art history but also on the fact that it still opens vast possibilities for interpretation,” considers Līna Birzaka-Priekule, Head of the Purvītis Prize 2023 panel of experts.

“The artist’s ability to play with a sense of infinity in this constricted space, without taking away a feeling of security, provided the viewer with the sorely missed immediate physical experience of art and exhibitions where they do not have to restrict themselves to the role of a passive onlooker,” adds curator Antra Priede.

The Anticipation is simultaneously a large-scale paper architectural model and an artistic capriccio, and yet its central nerve lies in meditative visualisation of the process of anticipating / anticipation that unfolds in the direction from deconstruction of an individual’s mundane ‘shell’ toward reassemblage thereof from scratch,” says Zane Onckule, Programme Director at the Kim? Contemporary Art Centre.

Evita Vasiļjeva and Kaspars Groševs

have been nominated for the Blue Lagoon House exhibition at Cēsis Centre for Contemporary Art as part of the Cēsis 2022 Art Festival (09.07.–14.08.2022).

Justification of the nomination: “Evita Vasiļjeva and Kaspars Groševs’ exhibition Blue Lagoon House resonates with the practice of the NSRD group of artists and their Approximate Art Manifesto. It is this eclectically creative freedom, each of the two artists working in their own area (that’s sculpture and installation for Vasiļjeva and music, painting and video for Groševs), their work occasionally overlapping, merging or not meeting, that is perceived as a breath of fresh air, drifting in and out through the second-floor sky blue curtains of the industrial building.

Groševs portrays his contemporaries, members of creative communities, trying to pinpoint and capture this fleeting moment that will not exist forever, except maybe in his paintings. Evita Vasiļjeva’s architectural concrete sandcastles are suspended in the middle of an eternal process, before or after their demolition or the primal form.

In all, it is one of the most elaborate and ambitious Latvian exhibitions by the two artists. I consider the nomination justified by the artists’ ability to open up an industrial space and work with it, while the essence of the show is born in a process of dialogue, collaboration and the endless bubbling of the local creative communities,” explains the art historian Līna Birzaka-Priekule

The Purvītis Prize 2023

The winner of the Purvītis Prize 2023 was named by an international jury of seven art professionals after assessing the performance of each nominee at the joint exhibition. Members of the jury were: Māra Lāce, Director of the Latvian National Museum of Art; Jānis Zuzāns, patron of the LNMA and the Purvītis Prize, Chairman of the Board of SIA Alfor; Udo Kittelmann, art theorist and curator, Director of the Berlin Nationalgalerie group of museums between 2008 and 2020; Krist Gruijthuijsen, curator and art critic, Director of the KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin); Ivana Goossen, Director of Kunsthalle Praha; Christian Nagel, gallerist, co-owner of Galerie Nagel Draxler; Laura Rutkutė, Art Director of the Vartai Gallery. The laureate has been announced on 26 May.

Until 24 May, the public was able to vote for their favourite from the shortlist at the news portal Delfi, a leading news medium in Latvia. The winner of the public vote – Ance Eikena – has been announced on 26 May as well.

In keeping with the tradition started four years ago, the Lifetime Contribution Award also was presented this year, and the recipient of the prize is Edīte Pauls-Vīgnere – for over a half century’s worth of work in textile art, high in artistic quality and filled with creative energy, her dedication to experimenting and searching for innovative solutions, thus evidencing the medium’s wealth of potential for creating artistic ideas in the context of its time. The decision on which artist to bestow this award to is taken by the Purvītis Prize organizing committee. The monetary value of the prize is 10 000 EUR (not including taxes).

Let us recall that the first recipient of the Lifetime Contribution Award was the painter Džemma Skulme (1925–2019), the second award went to the painter Maija Tabaka.

The Purvītis Prize

The Purvītis Prize is the most prestigious and the most substantial visual art award in Latvia. Founded in January 2008, the Purvītis Prize was launched to amass regular and systematic information about the latest visual arts events in Latvia, promote development of new projects and original ideas, acknowledge the best achievements in Latvian professional visual arts and popularise the success of Latvian artists both in Latvia and abroad.

The award is named after the Old Master of Latvian painting Vilhelms Purvītis (1872–1945). He was an outstanding artist and art professor who won critical acclaim both at home and internationally. A wise and farsighted culture politician, Vilhelms Purvītis was an active supporter of the young artists of the time and discovered a number of talented painters who later played important roles on the Latvian art scene. The name of Vilhelms Purvītis has become a sign of national identity, both in the history of Latvian art and in the eyes of the general public.

The Purvītis Prize is awarded biannually to an artist or a group of artists representing Latvia with outstanding work, which is deemed to be deeply connected to the developments of the era and forming a bridge between contemporary life, spiritual ideals and intrinsic values. The artist rated highest by a panel of experts and a specially established international jury is selected as the winner. The Prize is 28 500 EUR (including taxes).

The first Purvītis Prize was awarded in 2009 to Katrīna Neiburga for her video work Solitude. Artist Kristaps Ģelzis became the second winner of the Purvītis Prize in 2011 for his solo exhibition Varbūt (Maybe). The third Purvītis Prize in 2013 has won Andris Eglītis for his one-man show Zemes darbi (Soil Works). The fourth winner of the Purvītis Prize in 2015 was Miķelis Fišers for his personal exhibition Netaisnība (Disgrace). The Purvītis Prize 2017 went to a group of artists – Krišs Salmanis, Anna Salmane and Kristaps Pētersons – for their exhibition Dziesma (Song). The sixth Purvītis Prize was awarded in 2019 to artist Ieva Epnere for her personal exhibition Sea of Living Memories. Artist Amanda Ziemele became the seventh winner of the Purvītis Prize in 2021 for her solo exhibition Quantum Hair Implants. The Purvītis Prize 2023 went to Ance Eikena for her solo exhibition Our Heavenly Father.

The Purvītis Prize competition in visual arts is organised by the Latvian National Museum of Art in cooperation with the Museum Patron, SIA Alfor, and SIA Culture Project Agency ‘INDIE’ (Kultūras projektu aģentūra “INDIE”). The Purvītis Prize organisation is assisted by association Art Platform (Mākslas platforma) and P.R.A.E. Public Relations (P.R.A.E. Sabiedriskās attiecības).

Patron of the project:
SIA Alfor

Project idea and implementation:

Exhibition curator:
Daiga Rudzāte, art historian, critic

Exhibition design:
Martins Vizbulis, artist

Exhibition coordinator:
Astrīda Rogule, Curator of the Contemporary Art Collection /
Latvian National Museum of Art
Ph: (+371) 60 007 718,