Whilst Janis Avotins' diverse world of images is representational and figurative, it often contains human figures that defy definition in terms of past, present or future, figures that traverse vast expanses of colour, far removed from all reference to reality. This Latvian painter's latest series of works featureimaginary portraits of people seemingly locked in a process of coming to terms with the past. They are mainly double portraits of men gazing emptily into space, their facial expressions serious and emotionless. They are inconspicuous, respectably dressed, obviously sad and totally divorced from reality. Indeed, they exude a deep melancholy. Appropriately reduced in contrast and brilliance is the
spectrum of thinly applied colours. While the flesh colour of the portraitees stands out, the remaining parts of them seem to melt into the background.
Janis Avotins was ten years old when Latvia gradually began to embrace
democracy after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc. His entire youth was marked by this state of upheaval. "Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More" – this is the title of Alexei Yurchak's brilliant analysis of late Soviet society that radically changed Janis Avotins evaluation of the memories of the culture of his youth. The portraits may be seen both as a retrospective study of the everyday life and ideology of Socialism and an analysis of structures in the process of dissolution.
Janis Avotins, born in Latvia in 1981, lives and works in Riga.
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