Under the Black and Baltic Deep

Main Gallery

On view September 21
Public Opening Reception: Friday, October 12, 6 – 8 pm

Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia have a long history of achievement in ceramics, including folk pottery, commercial ware, and sculptural work. After the collapse of the Soviet Union brought independence and democracy to all three nations, ceramic artists responded to their new freedom by moving beyond skillful but guarded creations to more adventurous approaches. NCC’s exhibition will highlight these dramatic new efforts in ceramics with the introduction of nine contemporary makers from across the three countries, who represent the full spectrum of making, age, and education. Curated by Sarah Millfelt and Robert Silberman, the show is supported by exhibition liaisons in Lithuania—Tomas J. Daunora and the Kvadratas Cultural Initiatives Group; in Estonia—ceramic artist Juss Heinsalu; and in Latvia—exhibitions coordinator at the Riga Porcelain Museum, Ieva Naglina. Additionally, this exhibition is supported by a curatorial advisor, Anthony Stellaccio, an American scholar and artist.

Participating artists include: from Estonia: Kris Lemsalu, Leo Rohlin, and Anne Türn; from Latvia: Diana Boitmane, Dainis Pundurs, and Juta Rindina; and from Lithuania: Ieva Bertašiūtė-Grosbaha, Danutė Jazgevičiūtė, and Egidijus Radvenskas.

Ieva Bertašiūtė-Grosbaha is currently pursuing her PhD in fine arts from the Vilnius Art Academy in Lithuania. She formerly earned her MA in ceramics from the Vilnius Art Academy Kaunas Faculty of Arts and her BA in applied ceramics also from Kaunas. She says, “My artwork is about searching. I do not intend to find, I do not want to. The process of searching, the excitement in it, the fear, the happiness, the disappointment and the sadness, that’s what interests me most.”

Born in Riga, Latvia in 1982, Diana Boitmane-Liepina has studied stage design, graphic art, and ceramics. She received her BA in ceramics and her MA in graphic art at the Art Academy of Latvia. Boitmane-Liepina’s ceramic work employs minimalist aesthetics and conceptual approaches to the material. In addition to her ceramic sculptures, and under the business name of Malka Porcelain, she creates custom figurines, brooches, and graphic artworks. Boitmane-Liepina currently lives and works in Vienna, Austria.

Danutė Jazgevičiūtė graduated from the Lithuania State Institute of Art in 1969 (now the Vilnius Academy of Art). She has been an active participant in symposia and group exhibitions since 1976, with some 10 solo exhibitions, and a presence in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Croatia, and Italy. For 26 years, she was a lecturer at the Culture and Arts Education Institute at the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences. She says of her influence, “The most important experience and encounter is nature and people surrounding me…. Thus, I communicate my ideas through forms, colors, and surface textures, and I create objects prompted by the impressions, moods, and experiences.

Kris Lemsalu currently splits her time between Berlin and Tallinn. She studied at the Estonian Academy of Arts in Tallinn, at Danmarks Designskole in Copenhagen, and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Her ceramic installations combine porcelain sculptures cast in the form of animal or human body parts or objects of clothing. She incorporates myriad other materials such as fur, plastic, wood, and rubber. “Maximalist, visceral, and sexualized, Lemsalu’s pieces evoke the wild, bestial side of human beings and civilizations, and are underscored by feminist themes.” (https://www.artsy.net/artist/kris-lemsalu).

Dainis Pundurs has been an associate professor in the ceramics department at the Academy of Arts in Latvia since 2004. He received his MA from that Academy, in 1998, after studying ceramics and after attending the Rezekne Art Secondary School in eastern Latvia. He works primarily in stoneware and porcelain and says of his work, “A magician makes the object emerge all of a sudden and out of nowhere, like in a magic trick…. Alternatively, the gardener grows the object by carefully tending it, thereby reducing the risk of mistakes in design by liberating oneself from immoderate inclination….My strongest inclination is to tend my work like the gardener.”

Egidijus Radvenskas studied design at the Vilnius Fine Arts Academy from which he graduated in 1985. His work has been included in 12 solo exhibitions and his group exhibitions total over 100. He has extensively participated in symposia and residencies around the world. In his ceramic work, he finds material to be of greater importance than ideas, often combining refractory bricks with other materials such as clay, wood, and metal. He “employs irony and sarcasm in my artwork, not with a purpose of preaching, but in order to bring up some painful questions.”

Juta Rindina tells stories through her figurative compositions, which read like make-believe theatrical sets complete with props and characters. She often employs porcelain, stone, and other mixed-media into her works. Self-expression is paramount in her work and she’s been making for some 50 years. In the late 1960s, she attended the Riga Secondary School of Applied Art and later studied ceramics for five years at the Latvian Academy of Art. In 2016, Rindina received honorable mention as part of the Latvia International Ceramics Biennale. She currently resides in Riga, Latvia.

Leo Rohlin was born in Tallinn, Estonia, in 1930. He studied ceramics at the Estonian State Art Institute, graduating in 1965. For 37 years, he was a senior lecturer at the Estonian Academy of Arts and head of the department of ceramics between 1974 and 1984 and again from 2000 to 2005. Rohlin’s ceramic mandalas are incredibly time intensive in their creation, often formed from thousands of smaller ceramic elements, each of which is made by hand, bisque fired, glazed using a pipette, and then sprinkled with a powdered cobalt oxide. These “spangles” are later glued onto screw-heads and attached to wooden boards.

With an impressive exhibition roster that includes international solo and group shows in such countries as France, Germany, Korea, China, and Lithuania, Anne Türn is an Estonian-based artist. Her body of ceramic work is vast and seductive in surface, with sculptures that take on an animal-like feel and are often placed outside and photographed in situ, akin to a landscape photographer’s capture of an animal in its natural environment. Her “indoor” work can include multi-media “Valgusobjektid,” or light sculptures, that marry porcelain, glass, and hundreds of fiber-optic light strands.

Related Activities:

X13: Ieva Bertašiūtė-Grosbaha Artist Talk
Thursday, September 20, 6 pm, NCC Library

Learn more about Ieva Bertašiūtė-Grosbaha’s work. Bertašiūtė-Grosbaha will be in residence at NCC for three weeks in September, making new works for inclusion in the exhibition This event is free and open to the public, but space is limited, so pre-registration is required.

X15: Global Day of Clay Activities
Wednesday, October 10

Exhibition liaison, Juss Heinsalu will facilitate an interactive project space as part of the Global Day of Clay in cooperation with the 92Y and NCECA. #GlobalDayofClay is the first truly worldwide celebration of ceramics in all its forms, connecting professional ceramicists, artists, academics, and everyday ceramics lovers everywhere to explore new ideas, innovations, and works that are shaping the future of the art form. Stay tuned for more information about this and other events.

X16: Panel Discussion
Saturday, October 13, 10 am – 12 noon
Norway House, 913 East Franklin Avenue.

Join exhibition liaisons, Tomas J. Daunora, Juss Heinsalu, and Ieva Naglina, and curatorial advisor, Anthony Stellaccio, for a lively discussion about contemporary Baltic ceramics, led by moderator Robert Silberman. This event is free, but advanced registration is required. See NCC’s website for registration details.

Additional support for this exhibition is made possible, in part, by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia. 

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