Serenade of Shadows

Serenade of Shadows
Masha Kovtun, Olga Krykun
26/10 – 23/12/2023

Serenade of Shadows

Trauma is a strange animal. Sometimes it’s linked to a singular event. Other times it spans over long, blurry periods of time. It can be collective, but it’s always isolating. Trauma lingers. It plays the long game. It tells us we’re not safe, or that something terrible is about to happen. We wait for that thing to happen to us, and even when it doesn’t, we keep waiting. Sometimes if we wait long enough, our fears start to take shape and follow us into our waking reality. Maybe you mistake a man walking down a crowded street with a camera for a soldier with a loaded gun. Maybe every time your phone rings, you wince in anticipation of bad news. Maybe the shadows from the tree outside the window on your bedroom wall become more threatening as each nightly hour passes, and you can’t fall asleep. Your sense of the past and present is breaking, and there’s no longer a here and there, but one big same, unstable place that we’re all falling into.

But shadows can also just be shadows. If it’s so easy for them to transform into the material of our nightmares, then we can turn them into other things too, all kinds of things. For example, I’ll stretch out my arm and make the shape of a rabbit with my two fingers. You do the same, but try to make it look like a barking dog. The lamp light is soft so the shadows are a bit blurry, but it doesn’t matter anymore. We continue like this, making up our story as we go, until we finally fall asleep. 

The exhibition Serenade of Shadows is a dual effort conceived by artists Olga Krykun and Masha Kovtun. Within their work, both artists explore themes of nostalgia, longing, and an unending search for identity. More recently, they have begun to explore the physical and psychological ramifications of life during wartime. As Ukrainian artists living abroad, themes of uncertainty, isolation, and hyper-vigilance come to the fore. Serenade of Shadows is imbued with the artist’s nuanced introspections, blurring the edges of reality and escapist fantasy.

– Christina Gigliotti

Masha Kovtun (b. 1993) graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in the painting studio of Jiří Černický and Michal Novotný at the Prague UMPRUM, where she is now continuing her master’s studies in the studio of Fine Arts III under Michal Pěchouček and Dominik Gajarský. She also spent a study internship at the Angewandte in Vienna (Henning Bohl painting studio). In Ukraine, where Kovtun comes from she earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture at PGASA. She works in the medium of installation consisting of painting, video and sculpture with an emphasis on the mutual understanding of nostalgia with melancholy and the search for one’s own identity, determined by the specificity of the situation of an immigrant living in Prague for a long time. Her work relates to the theme of home in the broadest sense of the word, as a loss of intimacy and security in a world based on the endless flow of a present becoming rapidly obsolete. Masha Kovtun’s work has been presented in a number of independent galleries in the Czech Republic, as well as abroad, for example at the Lubov Gallery in New York.

Olga Krykun (b. 1994, Odesa, Ukraine) received her bachelor’s degree from the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague (Studio of Supermedia) and pursued her master’s degree in the Studio of Painting, which she received in 2021. Her thesis was nominated for the StartPoint Prize. During her studies, she completed international internships at T.E.I. in Athens, The Department of Photography and Audiovisual Arts, Konstfack – University of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm and National Taiwan University of Arts. In 2022 she became a holder of Jindřich Chalupecký Award. Olga Krykun uses diverse types of media in her artwork, including painting, objects and video, which she subsequently assembles to create complex installations. By combining elements of fictional narratives with references to real cultural and socially relevant symbols, she invents a self-contradicting mythology of our day-and-age. She works with topics such as identity, fragmentation of society, tension as a result of the personal discrepancy, and fear as a response to that. Her practice is strongly rooted in intuition, emotion and personal experience, the elements of which are approached with a distinct visual style and specific aesthetic, making her works reminiscent of surreal visions or a kind of dreamlike trance, resulting in a highly suggestive viewer experience.

Support: VKKF, Rīgas domem Malduguns

Photo: Līga Spunde

Time’s On, Time’s Gone

Time’s On, Time’s Gone
Vincenzo Ferlita, Dāvis Ozols
Curators: Kaspars Groševs and Daria Meļņikova
25/08 – 30/09/2023

Vincenzo Ferlita was born in Sicily in 1990 in Santo Stefano Quisquina in the province of Agrigento.

Dāvis Ozols was born in Riga in 1992.

Support: VKKF, Rīgas dome

Photo: Līga Spunde

Clump Spirit

Clump Spirit
Luīze Nežberte
20/07 – 19/08/2023

Clump Index
Text: Sophia Roxane Rohwetter

In her exhibition “Clump Spirit,” Luīze Nežberte presents a series of steel objects and scanned images that continue her interest in sculptural and spatial techniques of collecting, quoting, and collaging. If Luīze’s practice could be situated somewhere between formal experiments with the object trouvé and the disintegration of authorship through artistic appropriation, it is perhaps best described by the criminal act “theft by finding”. Luīze’s ‘clump spirits’ capture this kleptomaniac yet innocent spirit: these are objects made of a sticky support structure to which lost and found objects adhere to hold each and against each other, thereby transcending themselves and becoming one with the world. The clump spirits thus objectify a primordial, quasi-sublime state in which the integrity of the self is lost, a sense of boundless eternity, an oceanic feeling. 

In the spirit of the clump spirit, this text clings to another text, that is, Anne Boyer’s “Handbook of Disappointed Fate” and her prose poem “Crush Index” that lists, among other crushes, a tableau vivant of former crushes, subcategories of the never-to-be lover-crushes, species of crushes such as the crush of proximity and the crush of lack of proximity. The clump, is, like the crush, often too close to what it desires, and what it desires is often nothing more than a contingent object that it encounters on its way to somewhere else. IT IS EASY TO GO FROM BEING CRUSHED TO BEING CLUMPED, IT’S AS EASY AS TAKING YOUR HAND.

  1. Notes toward a theory of the clump spirit, Phenomenology of the Clump Spirit, ma vie en clump.
  2. Self-portrait of the clump spirit as Sigmund Freud: To work with the world of objects was to labor at the site of earliest grief. That was the infant world. What happened, first, is that you encountered a thing and then it felt good or it hurt you. This was how you found the boundaries.1Before there were boundaries, there was a contact with the body of an other felt as one’s own, a feeling of oneness with the external world as a whole, a direct fact of a sense of the eternal, et comme océanique. While the writer and mystic Romain Rolland considered this oceanic sensation to be a religious feeling, his pen pal Sigmund Freud held that the oceanic feeling, if it exists, is a shrunken remnant of an all-encompassing primitive ego feeling from infancy, a boundless narcissism that exists up until the mother ceases breastfeeding. The clump spirit returns to the mother’s lost breast to suck up a last supper.
  3. Self-portrait of the clump spirit as an appropriation artist and a copying machine, possibly one known as Lutz Bacher: All you have done to form your practice as an artist extended itself outward toward the heavens. Whatever it was you pursued in the arrangement and alteration of objects and environments until this point has been a telescopic extension.2 Perhaps artmaking is an attempt to return to the religious spirit of the oceanic feeling and to extend, through the appropriation and incorporation of objects, outward toward the heavens. The clump spirit artist moves between readymade and object trouvé, picking up objects and concepts off dirty streets and white gallery walls. The clump spirit artist is a gracious thief, an incurable criminal who follows a kleptomaniac desire as a symbolic compensation for an actual or anticipated loss. I like, when, at the end of “Pick Pocket,” the pilferer Michel says to his lover: “Oh, Jeanne, to reach you at last, what a strange path I had to take,” as if kleptomania was a detour on the highway to love.
  4. Regarding the clump spirits of toxic attachments, these subcategories: the-clump-spirit-of-toxic-attachments of the objects found in your grandfather’s garage that promise no inherited wealth but recall remnants of repressed intergenerational family trauma; the-clump-spirit-of-toxic-attachments of personal possessions that is less an intimate representation of a life lived among things than an archive of the deadly movements of global capital, the-clump-spirit-of-toxic-attachments that teaches that attachment is not always toxic and often less tight than it appears, that the libido is as unstable as it is sticky (Freud calls this “die Klebrigkeit der Libido”).
  5. Some species of clump spirits: the clump spirit of excessive decadence, the clump spirit of dust and dirty hands, the clump spirit of all the lost objects that once caused and then ended your desire, the clump spirit that sticks too hard, the clump spirit that falls apart, the clump spirit of proximity, the clump spirit of lack of proximity, the clump spirit that floods itself with the vast oceanic tides of the marketplace and false feeling and scripted hellos and the aerosolized and the ambulatory and shipping containers and social practice and smile scanners3, the clump spirit that leads with detachment and ends with adhesion, the clump spirit that leads with adhesion and ends with detachment, the clump spirit that feels like it isn’t enough, the clump spirit of the heaviness of the feeling of the too-muchness of the world, such as the heavy feeling of the too-muchness of asphalt, or of amphitheaters, soda bottles, modular furniture, or orange traffic cones4, the clump spirit of fighting spirits.
  6. If the world beyond the crush moves somewhere between romantic love and armed cells, the world beyond the clump spirit is the clump spirit itself. We can’t go three hours without encountering obstacles in our backs. We move within repulsing and adhesive bodies whose sensations constantly draw us toward other bodies, also repulsing and adhesive.5

1 Anne Boyer, A Handbook of Disappointed Fate, p. 145.

2 Anne Boyer, A Handbook of Disappointed Fate, p. 148f.

3 Anne Boyer, A Handbook of Disappointed Fate, p. 214.

4 Anne Boyer, A Handbook of Disappointed Fate, p. 136.

5 Anne Boyer, A Handbook of Disappointed Fate, p. 105.

Luīze Nežberte (b. 1998 in Riga, Latvia) lives and works in Vienna, Austria.

Support: VKKF, Rīgas dome

Photos: Līga Spunde

Torņkalns’ Drive

Torņakalns’ Drive
Ieva Putniņa
7/06 – 8/07/2023

Tina Turner’s “It’s simply the best” plays from the next room. That is enough for Ieva to have woken up and already got out of bed! “Well, this magical day has begun!” Ieva with 5 camels and 3 blind people (the number of steps) reaches the coffee machine, which it turns out Zane and Putriņa have put there during the night, non-stop rummaging in the workshop and drinking coffee. “Heh, heh, that’s nothing,” thinks Ieva, “I can pour coffee beans into my mouth and chew them properly”.
And it’s done.
After drinking coffee, Ieva starts packing her jeep full of painting supplies and CDs. “You never know how long the road will be, it’s better to take more music,” Ieva thinks wisely.
After throwing only 2 circles around Torņkalns, Ieva realizes that everything is so abnormally beautiful, so she quickly turns the corner to the right, easily jumps over the curb and enters the nearby snake grove to paint.
This exhibition features paintings where the study of nature competes with the imagination.

— Margrieta Griestiņa

Ieva Putniņa’s range of interests is wide – painting, animation, cinema, performance. Visually, her works are often reminiscent of older art traditions, but the paradoxical plot twists allow them to be located in a completely modern world. Ieva likes to create props to such a degree of reality that you only have to touch them to realize that they are not edible or usable (but maybe they are?). Ieva is a teacher at the Janis Rozentāls Art School. She has exhibited in Low gallery, Maboca festival, Ag Gallery, Riga Circus Elephant Hall and elsewhere.

Support: VKKF, Rīgas dome

Photos: Līga Spunde

Mailbox Nr. 12

Mailbox Nr. 12
Ēriks Apaļais
28/04 – 27/05

Solo exhibition “Mailbox No. 12” by Ēriks Apaļais invites the audience to a gathering of the painter’s latest works in the candid space of the 427 gallery. At the artist’s grand exhibition, which offered an overview of his work to date at the Latvian National Art Museum in early 2020, visitors could enter the painting series “Memory Object”, in which Apaļais created image models, trying to understand the meanings of autobiographical characters – the paintings functioned as maps of the psyche, in which the artist’s process of explorations was absorbed. In the “Memory Object” paintings, Apaļais discovered that the character as an object of memory is a construction that can be abstracted pictorially, softening the meanings of the experiences attached to the characters.
“Postcard No. 12” offers opportunities for new revelations of how to treat memory objects after their meanings have been critically interrogated, moving from the relativization of characters to an experience in which memory objects are transformed through their states of awareness. In the series, the family characters (mom, dad and sister) are in a dynamic relationship that opens up the possibility of new interactions and an open field for connections and additions of experiences.

Ēriks Apaļais (b. 1981) mainly works in painting and has participated in international exhibitions since 2008. Notable exhibitions: Family, Latvian National Museum of Art, Riga (2020; Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More, Riga International Biennial Of Contemporary Art, Riga (2018); Stolichnaya and Snowmen, Art Cologne, Cologne, Germany (2018); Dedication, Exploitation & Haute Collaboration, Silberkuppe Gallery, Berlin (2017); Inscribed Silhouettes, Galerie Vera Munro, Hamburg (2014). The artist has been awarded the Karl H. Ditze-Preis for best diploma, the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg, Germany (2011) and DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) award for excellence. In 2011 has been nominated for Ars Viva 11/12 prize. Ēriks Apaļais has received master’s degree in arts from the University of Fine Arts of Hamburg as a student of Prof. Andreas Slominski, Germany (2011).

Support: VKKF, Riga City Council

Photos: Līga Spunde


Jaakko Pallasvuo
17/03 – 15/04/2023

i’m wOrKiNg oN SoMe jEaNs

I’M WoRkInG WiTh sEcOnD HaNd cLoThInG

I ThOuGhT I WaS PlAcInG MySeLf iN A CoNvErSaTiOn wItH FaShIoN

wHaT’S FuNnY AbOuT FaShIoN? iLlUsIoNs aRe fUnNy


sErIoUsNeSs iS FuNnY

lOvE Is nOt fUnNy

dEeP LoVe aNd dEdIcAtIoN ArE NoT ThAt fUnNy

oBsEsSiOn iS (iN A WaY) fUnNy

i’m wOrKiNg oN ThE JeAnS FoR An eXhIbItIoN In rIgA

Jaakko Pallasvuo (b. 1333) is an artist living and working in Helsinki. Pallasvuo’s work has been exhibited at Documenta 15, CCA Derry~Londonderry, American Medium, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw and New York Film Festival, among other places. Pallasvuo’s comics for the instagram account avocado_ibuprofen were recently collected into a book by Chicago-based publisher Perfectly Acceptable Press.

Support: VKKF, Arts Promotion Centre Finland, Finnish Art Society

Photos: Līga Spunde