From 1 August to 20 September 2020, the Cupola Hall of the main building of the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga hosts Lactation, an exhibition of sculptures by Olga Shilova, Ance Vilnīte and Nils Jumītis.
Lactation is the process by which mammary glands produce and distribute mother’s milk. Lactation starts after birth, but the preparation of the mammary glands for lactation is a lengthy process that is already occurring during pregnancy.
The exhibition has been devised as a conversation about the relationship between mother and child between three artists with very different perspectives in life, through the contrasting feelings of the sculptors, revealing the strength of the woman in the role of mother and artist and the beauty of challenges of childbirth.
In Olga Shilova’s works, the maternal instinct resonates with the sculptor’s desire for new creation. The artist’s relations with her works are compared to children – ideas that require gestation, nurturing, and protection. If this instinct is what helps a woman to overcome unimaginable difficulties, – is something similar applies to the creative process?
“Thoughts and feelings that, evolving into the form of a work of art, are compared to mother’s milk. The sweat which infuses the surface of the sculpture is akin to a mother’s caresses. The energy with which the sculptor charges the materials, and the magnetism, which arises from gazing at creation for a long time, is spiritual and physical food, which an artist puts into his sculptures,” explains Olga Shilova.
Olga Shilova’s works for this exhibition were deliberately made in a milk-white plaster, polyurethane, and foam – materials, which sculptors usually use during the initial stage of formation. These are intermediary materials, which make it possible to record an idea in a tangible form, but which retain fragile brevity.
In contrast to Olga Shilova, emerging artist Ance Vilnīte is at the very start of professional trajectory and her sculptural installations reflect a young woman’s insecurity and anxiety, which arise from the possible life scenarios she has observed in becoming a mother. These include not only the fear of losing personal freedom and dreams but also real worries about whether she will be able to give her child all this. “The reasons why a woman may decide not to become a mother are not always linked to not wishing to do so,” says the author, drawing attention to various social, emotional, and practical challenges related to raising a child.
In his works, young artist Nils Jumītis examines the narrative of this relationship from a completely different angle, creating a fragmentary space of childhood memories. Similar to black and white photographic negatives, dolls cast in the lead form dark, mysterious figures, who elicit viewers’ own emotions and musings – loose, deformed, and threatening like the admonishing voice of one’s self-consciousness. Ambiguous memories, lost and imperceptible time – what do they reveal about one’s current self?
“Works of art also evolve through a process, which requires feeding in a direct and metaphorical sense in which a creative idea or form change and develop. Pink metal streams pour into the cast, “feeding” form and acquiring a new shape. The form is transformed into another material, being born with a new existential appearance. The result is the attempted creation of a semiotic entity, seeking to touch upon experienced memories, which have changed a great deal in the perception of people today,” explains Nils Jumītis.
Olga Shilova is a notable late 20th century – early 21st-century Latvian sculptor and Associate Professor at the Art Academy of Latvia. Designer of several well-known awards and urban sculptures (Riga Tower Counter, Ziedonis’ Award, etc.). Her most significant solo exhibition in recent years has been Milda in a Three-Quarter Turn (gallery Māksla XO).
Ance Vilnīte is a student in the Art Academy of Latvia’s bachelor’s program, who has attracted widespread attention through her memorable works and set of performances during the Academia exhibition in the ARSENĀLS Exhibition Hall of the Latvian National Museum of Art. She has participated in several group exhibitions including the MVT Summer House exhibition The Crushed, as well as in the Riga Photomonth 2020 program.
Nils Jumītis is a graduate of the Art Academy of Latvia’s Metal Design sub-branch bachelor’s program, who has participated in various international symposiums and group exhibitions. One of the Nordic & Baltic Young Artist Award’19 (NBYAA) Grand Prix nominees.