A Visionary Drawing Riddle


The exhibition "A visionary drawing riddle", organized by the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art, featured eight Latvian artists who were invited to reflect on and interact with the works of Māris Bišofs. The exhibition was on view in locations throughout Valmiera’s urban environment – from the walls and roofs of buildings to the shelves of some stores.


The central axis around which the exhibition revolved is the artist Māris Bišofs, whose art is recognized by many but who nevertheless remains a recluse in the Latvian art scene. Born in Rūjiena, he later became a citizen of the world – spending time in Israel, France and the USA – before returning to Latvia, where he has now been living for the past 20 years. Bišofs still draws every day, predicting the future in his works, as well as commenting with sarcasm and humour on current events in Latvia and the wider world.

“In the present day I don’t call them caricatures anymore – I actually hate that word. Cartoonists are not great artists. They draw a single freaky character of their own all their lives. My works are based on history, previous art. No one stands apart from previous art. This is how art accumulates and develops,” says Māris Bišofs about his works.

The curators of the exhibition, Solvita Krese and Māra Žeikare, invited eight artists – Ēriks Božis, Kaspars Groševs, Ernests Kļaviņš, Agate Lielpētere, Marija Luīze Meļķe, Ingrīda Pičukāne, Krišs Salmanis and Vivianna Maria Stanislavska –, as well as the writer Jānis Joņevs, to interact with Bišofs’ creative practice and to create new artworks that will complement the urban space.

“His goal is to find the upside-down and to show it to people who may not see it themselves. Bišofs provokes viewers to step out of their usual perceptions of the world. By combining several themes, unexpected results are produced, and Bišofs is a master at clearing the image of everything superfluous,” explains Solvita Krese. Along with his drawing, text is of great importance in Bišofs’ works. “Bišofs’ texts are like a bouncy word game in which daily observations and references to art history and current events alternate with biographical facts and personal reflections, making more than one reader laugh out loud,” Krese points out.

The eight invited artists were given a rather difficult task: to create new works inspired by and interacting with the creative practice of Māris Bišofs and towards which viewers would not be able to remain indifferent. Krišs Salmanis’ witty and ironic intervention on the roof of Valmiera Culture Centre briefly and accurately summarised the feelings of cultural workers observing the industry’s struggles in the field of real estate, Ingrīda Pičukāne reviewed Bišofs’ drawings from a woman’s point of view, Vivianna Maria Stanislavska focused on the consequences of the climate crisis, and Ēriks Božis turned absurd situations from Bišofs’ two-dimensional drawings into installations in the urban environment. Agate Lielpētere imagined what is hidden behind the door of a power transformer booth, and put an ironic spin on stereotypes of national identity. The lines of Kaspars Groševs’ impossible objects wereturned into spatial drawings in Bišofs’ style, while, with the help of animation, Ernests Kļaviņš explored how a complex drawing turns into a simple one and how many lines are needed to represent the author’s initial intention. Marija Luīze Meļķe focused on a completely traditional medium and format; drawings by her and Māris Bišofs were regularly published in the local newspaper Liesma. Writer Jānis Joņevs, for his part, has created texts inpired by Bišofs, that were published in the local advertising newspaper "Tava Izvēle".

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