Artist Review by Tish Greenwood
Traditional landscape painting is usually thought of a visually literal, photographic-like, representation of nature. In these type of paintings, the viewer is provided with the sensation of experiencing the outside world contained on a two-dimensional surface. Nature has been captured and scaled down to a human scale and can be imbued with romantic conceptions like metaphor, culture, memory and desire. For example, Victorian landscape painters used a Claude glass (a small portable convex mirror with its surface tinted a dark color) as a framing device to define the ideal view. These picturesque paintings have the illusion of representing the external reality but for the most part, they are actually mediated views geared to trigger associations with the spiritual found in nature.
Inguna Gremzde’s lovingly painted landscapes are ethereal treasures that define an ideal view of nature. Romanticism is an art and literary movement that developed in the early nineteenth century. Its basic characteristics revolve around new interest in emotions, human psychology and an interest in the natural world. Think of a John Constable or J.M.W. Turner painting – both of these artists represent this movement perfectly. Gremzde, who lives part-time in London and received her MFA from Wimbledon College of Art (London, UK) is blatantly confronting this illusion of landscape by transposing these mediated views onto the plastic refuse she collects.
In her works, the external world is shrunk down, grouped together and intricately painted inside a series of plastic caps. The viewer can escape momentarily into a small world that Gremzde has constructed but is pushed back into reality when confronted by the medium she uses to create these picturesque views. The artist’s eco-aesthetic approach to art making is meant to juxtapose contemporary consumer lifestyles with humankind’s historically romantic relationship with nature. Gremzde’s works are intended to engage the viewer by reflecting on the relationship between mass production and the growing alienation from nature.
Exploring her works, you find a combination of image, object and installation. The serial approach to displaying her found objects strengthens the connection to mass production and issues surrounding globalization. Gremzde lures us in with her romantic renderings of nature but we depart thinking about our impact on the environment. Gremzde’s work represents an artist attempting to make a difference by producing meaningful art geared to motivate society to more sustainable lifestyles.
TISH GREENWOOD, Executive Director, California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks (CMATO) is dedicated to creating cultural spaces where ideas are shared and people connect. Tish’s professional experience includes positions at the J. Paul Getty Museum, photo l.a. and ArtSlant. Her experience working for the National Endowment for the Arts spurred her recent curatorial project Mass Appeal: The Art of Corita Kent. Tish received her BA in Art History from John Cabot University, Rome, Italy and her MA in Museum Studies and Contemporary Art from Georgetown University and Sotheby’s Institute of Art-New York.
Gremzde's practice explores human and nature relationship regarding nature as a focus for the formation of individual and community's identity. Growing alienation from nature, habitation in cities and dominating consumer lifestyle results in more time spent in constructed, artificial spaces monitored by surveillance cameras like shopping malls and waiting halls defined as non-places, which being real measure of our time have no identity, relations and history. The scene of nature paid close look at as opposite can open itself to reveal a secret life, a narrativity and history outside the given field of perception.
Miniature landscape paintings placed in standardized plastic bottle caps are a small world on it's own without national restrictions depicting sky, fields and woods, surrounded by contemporary frame. Even not showing any trace of human presence the scenes juxtapose contemporary consumer lifestyles with man's historically romantic relationship with nature.
The work reminds of the ecosystems which function to produce the milk for which these lids packaged. The work in the same time investigates the common trend of landscape being regarded as unclean and unsafe unless neatly packaged, managed, labeled and turned into commodity, conceptually miniature scale referring shrinking space of untouched nature.
These small landscapes could have been intended for looking at when seized by a vague feeling of necessity to escape from undefined urban environment. The proposed works reference their hybrid status as image, object and installation. Although each painting is unique due to the same size, format and use of plastic as material, the works resemble each other. In addition, the pieces are mostly exhibited as a group of numerous single pieces to reveal their greatest impact through a repetitive structure on the wall. There, to a certain degree, images lose their individual character in order to expose a common formal and conceptual stand. At the same time like in any repetitive strategy the serial method boosts its single image as its formal visuality and intellectual concept get multiplied.
Inguna Gremzde is an artist based in Riga/ Latvia and London/ UK. Receiving MFA from Wimbledon College of Art (London, UK) in 2011 Gremzde was selected for Axis MaStar graduate award by WW Gallery.
Gremzde's paintings and mixed media installations mostly dealing with environmental and social issues have been shortlisted for prizes including 6th International Arte Laguna Art Prize (Arsenale; Venice, Italy), Threadneedle Prize (Mall Galleries; London, UK) and awarded Honorable Mentions at Turgut Pura Prize (Izmir Art and Sculpture Museum; Izmir, Turkey) and 53rd International Show (San Diego Art Institute, San Diego).
Gremzde's artworks have been exhibited in a solo show "Crossroads" at Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts (NY) and two-person show "Vacant Lots" with Susie Hamilton at WW Gallery (London, UK) in 2012.
Gremzde's Group shows include Painting Center and Jeffrey Leder, Brenda Taylor, Crossing Art, Trestle Galleries (NY); HVCCA (Peekskill, NY); Susquehanna Art Museum (Harrisburg, PA); Aljira (Newark, NJ); ATHICA (Athens, GA); CoCA (Seattle, WA); Berkeley Art Center (Berkeley, CA); Kunstverein Tiergarten/ Galerie Nord (Berlin, Germany); Ulster Museum (Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK); The Nunnery (London, UK); Fórum Eugénio de Almeida (Évora, Portugal); Plato Sanat (Istanbul, Turkey), Santorini Biennale (Imerovigli Cultural Center; Santorini, Greece) among other exhibitions in US, UK, Germany, Spain, France, Belgium, Ireland, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Israel, Japan, South Korea and Canada.