Latvian Art Classic

Collection of Dr. Guntis Belēvičs

The exhibition was open from 7 September through 5 October 2008 in Latvian National Museum of Art.

For the first time ever the Latvian National Museum of Art was presenting an exhibition comprising works from a single private art collection. It is the collection of Guntis Belēvičs, Ph.D., created during the years following the renewed independence of Latvia.

Guntis Belēvičs applies to art-collecting the approach developed during his scientific career, basing the selection of works on scientific systemisation and digitisation as well as on assessment of each individual artist's contribution and the general context. As often as not, the initial impulse in choosing a new addition to the collection is inspired by a work of art "speaking" to the collector. Assessment

of the "specific location of the work on the line segment of the author's art" follows. The collector is looking for Latvian art both in Latvia and abroad: contacting the artists' heirs and fellow collectors, visiting art galleries and auctions. Many of the paintings and graphic works featured in the show are experiencing a true renaissance thanks to the efforts of restorers and conservators.

The display is a panoptic overview of Latvian art, covering the time between the late 1700s and late 1900s. It mirrors the way art is displayed in a private collection where there is no room for empty spaces on the walls – a compactness

developed and perfected by the French Academy in the late 1600s. A similar manner of object co-existence can be observed at palaces and churches where things created in different times form a historic interior decor.

The setup of the exhibition is centred on the concept of passage of time. The sequence is determined by the date or period of each work's

creation. The chronological principle permits to integrate phenomena normally left out of thematic sections into the whole.

All of the artists represented here belong to the circle of classics: in other words, the authors are no longer among us. The show opens with two portraits by Friedrich Hartmann Barisien, the court artist of the Duke of Courland Peter von Biron, and concludes

with a grotesque take on reality by Auseklis Baušķenieks. The total of 222 exhibits presents an overview of Latvian art, tracing the Latvian ideals, historical peripeteiae and efforts of the creative spirit of the nation through the times.