When we asked the artist what title to give this exhibition, Osvalds Zvejsalnieks answered – “Lifetime”. At first glance, and to some, it may seem too pensive or sentimental a title for an exhibition, and maybe the artist felt the same when we talked about it and selected the paintings. But, when we look at the artist’s assorted work and his many accomplishments in Latvian (especially Latgalian) painting, culture, social life and life in general, certainly, this loaded word, LIFETIME, can be equated with all things DONE and all things waiting TO BE DONE.
This “LIFETIME” exhibition is a milestone and a reckoning, a homage and a tribute to the landscape of Latgale – such as the one we find in Krāslava, the town the artist fell in love with in his student days, with its meadows and gardens, and the genuine simplicity of its wooden cottages that cannot be easily put into words, but can be expressed through colour. It is Latgale with its countless silhouettes of churches captured in Rēzekne, Ludza, Daugavpils, Aglona, Varakļāni and elsewhere, reflecting the sensations, emotions and colours of various seasons with the mirror of artistic spirit and brightening them, as is the artist’s wont, into something much more colourful and vibrant yet uncontrived.
Doubtlessly, this exhibition account could not go without the artist’s compositions from Spain, which are as organic and animated as his landscapes of Latgale – they are oozing magic and simplicity, while reaffirming the artist’s awareness of belonging to Latgale, which he loves in his heart and work rather than in slogans or solemn proclamations. A special place among the artist’s creative outputs belongs to paintings from his Ethnography Cycle. Much like the artist’s unexpected findings in nature, these vibrant decodings of the ethnographic blankets of Latgale, adorned with centuries-old floral patterns against a darker backdrop, are neither fictional nor contrived, but simple and self-sufficient, taken from shapes and structures observed in nature.
The great love of Osvalds Zvejsalnieks’ life is painting in plein air, regardless of weather or place, among his artist friends, in a company and setting that invites conversation, analysis and change of cultural scene.
Every work in the exhibition radiates the artist’s insight and spiritual wisdom, his simplicity and humanity – all his actual attributes. The exhibition also features his paintings about the year 1905, produced at different times when the artist chose to revisit the subject. Compositions from the 1970s and 1980s date back to older days, making this exhibition a glimpse into the artist’s creative journey of 50 years. They represent the artist’s early creative outputs. From this foundation grew the present-day artist, Osvalds Zvejsalnieks, instantly recognisable to the wider public by his unmistakable personal style.
Painter Osvalds Zvejsalnieks was born on 21 March 1944 in Varakļāni. He graduated from the Art Academy of Latvia and was admitted into Latvian Artists’ Union in 1976. In 1970, Zvejsalnieks assumed a teaching position in Rēzekne Secondary School of Applied Arts, present-day Rēzekne School of Arts and Designs, which he now leads as a director. The artist holds a professorship at the Art Academy of Latvia. He has taught many prominent artists of today, including those who follow in his footsteps, celebrating the landscape of Latgale and cultivating the traditions of painting in plein air.
Osvalds Zvejsalnieks has organised many exhibitions in Latvia and abroad, including more than 20 one-man shows, and has participated in countless plein airs. The artist’s work is held in many museum and private collections in Latvia and abroad.