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Pēteris Martinsons exhibition Line and Fore

  • 2018-09-06
  • LNMA/TBT Staff

Pēteris Martinsons exhibition Line and Form, the first satellite exhibition of the project JUST ON TIME. Design Stories about Latvia, will be on view at the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design in Riga (Skārņu iela 10) from 6 September to 14 October 2018.

The opening of the most ambitious project of the 2018 autumn-winter season in the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design – the exhibition JUST ON TIME. Design Stories about Latvia – is set for 7 November. Already in September the museum gives the opportunity to visit the satellite exhibition, Line and Form, which will show the works and drawings of ceramicist Pēteris Martinsons (1931–2013), providing a unique occasion to get to know the master’s creative ideas and their realisation in ceramic material.

Pēteris Martinsons acquired an architect’s education. Working as a teacher of composition and design at the Riga Secondary School of Applied Arts, he learned the basics of ceramics. Artist’s early works – clay candle-sticks, jugs, shallow flower vessels, as well as decorative figural groups – dream birds, horses, devils – in the 1960s attracted public attention and were initially met with his colleagues’ incomprehension with their unusual approach: the author consistently worked with unglazed clay, foregrounding the material’s natural qualities and the plasticity of freely modelled forms, which was highlighted by a layer of black lines.

Around 1976 the artist initiated a tradition – every day to create at least one completed sheet of drawing. For Pēteris Martinsons these were like hours of active fantasy or meditation. His abstract compositions capture ideas for plastic forms and decorations, as well as the different stages of development of these ideas. At the same time, these compositions can be seen as the author’s reflections about global or even cosmic processes of form creation and relationships.

Pēteris Martinsons was an innovator, who brought a considerably more relaxed approach to the task of form creation in Latvian ceramics and thus demonstrated a link with current trends and creative endeavours in Western art, participating in more than 100 international exhibitions and 70 symposia. He is the only Latvian artist, who already in the 70s earned four gold medals at the prestigious Competition of Ceramics exhibition in Faenza (Italy) and in 1971 was admitted to the International Academy of Ceramics in Geneva (Switzerland).

Pēteris Martinsons is the internationally best-known Latvian ceramicist, whose oeuvre for almost half a century has inspired artists of many countries and different generations, spurring creative, daring experiments with clay, chamotte and porcelain. In order to preserve the master’s memory on an international scale, the Mark Rothko Art Centre in his native Daugavpils has established the Latvian International Ceramics Biennale and the Martinsons Award competition, which this year selected works of 94 authors from 29 countries.

The intimate exhibition in the 3rd floor vestibule of the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design will for the first time show part of Pēteris Martinsons’ family’s – his godson Indulis Leinerts’ – gift to the museum. The drawings are arranged according to the principle the artist himself used in 1988 in Tallinn, preparing the exposition of his personal exhibition at the Museum of Applied Art. Several groups of ceramic objects from the 1980s have been selected for the exhibition from the collection of the Latvian National Museum of Art, which most clearly demonstrate the next creative stage – the artist’s outstanding ability to create a graphic composition on a spatial volume, when line follows each curve of the surface, highlighting the transition from one part of the object to another.

In an interview, Pēteris Martinsons reflected on his work: “Just like in any other field – you can do anything, it’s just – how you do it. You must work so hard as you are dead on your feet. And you must draw on porcelain as though you had ploughed a furrow or dug a ditch, with the same kind of bodily exertion. [..] Naturally, the viewer must believe that everything was made in a single breath, as though by itself. If I myself am like a peasant, my works strive for refinement...”.