We are reminded again of Latvia’s painting and cultural history

  • 2012-09-19
  • By Sam Logger

THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER: Aleksandra Belcova. Sukubs (decorative panel). 1922. Oil on canvas. LNMM collection.

RIGA - Culture is a purposeful tool to make a nation unified. It works as a link amongst the people who decide to explore the creative professions, and the ordinary masses who choose to be the appraiser. To ensure that this collaboration is even more productive, significant cultural caves are established, where the air is melted and transmitted all over the space to produce creativity.

One such place was the cafe Sukub Nr.6, which was opened in Riga in 1919, and the Museum of Romans. Suta and Aleksandra Belcova give an opportunity to peek into this cafe by visiting the exhibition “Sukub – an event in Latvian painting and catering.”

The creative environment, art and vegetarian cuisine had been the three things which generated atmosphere and let the visitors take a small portion of the energy as well. The name, which was derived from two artistic movements - suprematism and cubism - gladly implemented its intention to attract people who wanted to share and enrich their opinions and – what was not less important – enjoy the delicious food.
“Sukub had developed into the most interesting Riga gathering and discussion place for writers and artists,” the writer Lilija Brante-Parupe emphasizes the conversations about politics, culture, literature, theater and art as those talks were an integral component of the cafe.

Of course, avant-garde was meaningful in the name of Sukub; it also served as the main motif in the interior. Six modern artists of the time set to paint the walls, and they framed the thoughts of Aleksandra Belcova, Romans Suta (the son of Sukub’s owner Natalija), Oto Skulme, Valdemars Tone, Niklavs Strunke and Konrads Ubans. Thus, the cafe turned out to be an outstanding portrait of the national art, offering a puzzle for the media to recognize paintings which provoked misunderstanding and contemplation.

The goal of the exhibition is to remind us about this powerful place where the bohemian mood kept the intellectual fervor together, hence the exhibited items include photographs, paintings, documental materials, all of them received from the Latvia National Art Museum and other collections.

Therefore – where does this goal lead us? Unfortunately, it does not lead to Sukub itself. It is almost impossible to restore the historical appreciation towards the cafe at the exhibition because it only demonstrates some bits of the momentum that was modern at the beginning of the 20th century. That is why, for those potential visitors who wish to see Sukub in its real motions, there must be a warning that the exhibition does not provide this service.
However, there is another aspect of the exhibition which can be just as exciting as seeing the cafe with your own eyes, and that speaks about the time boundaries, where the exhibition builds a bridge which links today’s thinking with the feeling of how it used to be.

Surprisingly, this bridge, which needs to be built by every person themselves, can start the flight of thought which was so crucial at Sukub. The ideas, characters and slogans which were alive at the cafe are still alive today, although they may seem simplified or less patriotic.

Who will benefit the most from this exhibition? Those who depend on the creative aura! Those who desire to read behind the images! Those who want to feel true, historical breath! Alongside the exhibition there is a chance to travel through the lives of Romans Suta, Aleksandra Belcova and Tatjana Suta as the permanent exhibition is also included in the price.
Additionally, guides will answer all questions related to the creative activities of artists, securing that this travel ends with an enormous base of new knowledge.

In the end, advice must be given – pay attention to the form! The lines which converge into a unified structure are so unrepeatable and isolated at the same time that wondering about the culture’s complexity seems well-grounded. Still, the eyes in the paintings do not lie – maybe there is a rebel, who will nicely fit in the walls of Sukub, in all of us! It only has to be remembered!

The exhibition is open till Jan. 6, 2013.
The museum is located on Elizabetes St. 57a - 26.