Named in the memory of the Latvian old master painter Vilhelms Purvītis, the newest Latvian art award has been received by the contemporary artist Katrīna Neiburga. She received the nomination thanks to her two outstanding works of art: Topology 29, part of the Urbanologic exhibition in Andrejsala, and Solitude, exhibited during the 2nd Moscow's Biennial of Contemporary Art and acquired by Finland's Kiasma.
The Purvītis Award is a biennial recognition of an artist or a group of artists for excellent representation of Latvian art by creating artwork that shows relevance to the modern society, zeitgeist, high ideals and universal values. It helps to single out the best professionals of visual art, invigorates the country's artistic processes and popularises Latvian artists' achievement. The award includes a monetary prize of 20 thousand lats, making it the biggest award in the history of Latvian visual art. The selection for the Purvītis Award is organised by the Latvian National Museum of Art in cooperation with the business company SIA Alfor.
The winner was determined by a panel of judges consisting of the director of the Latvian National Museum of Art Ms Māra Lāce, SIA Alfor's chairman of the board Jānis Zuzāns, theoretician, curator and former minister of culture Ms Helēna Demakova, art director of the Russian National Centre of Contemporary Art Mr Leonid Bažanov, art researcher and professor of the Latvian Academy of Art Mr Eduards Kļaviņš, painter and rector of the Latvian Academy of Art Mr Aleksejs Naumovs, theoretician, curator and director of the Serpentine art gallery Mr Hans Ulrich Obrist, architect Mr Andis Sīlis and art researcher and editor-in-chief of the Neputns publishing house Ms Laima Slava.
Eight nominees, all of whom had demonstrated excellence in visual art in 2007 and 2008, had made it to the final round, from which the panel members had to choose only one:
Gints Gabrāns, for his exhibition work Paramirrors at the Latvian pavilion of the 52nd Venice Biennial;
Helēna Heinrihsone, for her solo show Hello, Mole! in the White Hall of the Latvian National Museum of Art;
Ieva Iltnere, for her show Eight Rooms at the Rīga gallery;
Andris Eglītis, for his one-man show Under the Vault of Heaven (exhibited in Andrejsala);
Ēriks Božis, for his artwork Sheltering Sky at the Instructions solo show (exhibited in Andrejsala);
Sarmīte Māliņa and Kristaps Kalns, for their object artwork Love Never Ends within the Beauty exhibition of contemporary art at the Cēsis Festival of Arts in 2008;
Miks Mitrēvics, for his artwork Collection of Characters, exhibited in different configurations at Flensburg's museum of art, at Moscow's centre of contemporary art, in Andrejsala and also included in the Manifest exposition, as well as for his Satellite at The Medium is the Message? exhibition.
Katrīna Neiburga, for her two artworks Topology 29 (part of the Urbanologic exhibition in Andrejsala) and Solitude (exhibited during the 2nd Moscow's Biennial and acquired by the Finnish Kiasma contemporary art museum).
All the nominees' artworks are shown in an exhibition running until the 29th of March at the Arsenāls gallery of the Latvian National Museum of Art. It is a careful selection of the best of Latvian contemporary visual arts of 2007 and 2008, and therefore shouldn't be missed. In its curator Elita Ansone's words, "the exhibited works talk about the big, existential issues of life and death, the rational and irrational, solitude and love, the mystery and one's inner search for enlightenment".