2000 | 1 | 92-103
Article title

PETERIS KRASTINS' SYMBOLIST VISION OF NATURE IN THE CONTEXT OF EUROPEAN ART (Petera Krastina simboliskais dabas redzejums Eiropas makslas konteksta)

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The Latvian painter and draughtsman Peteris Krastins (1882-c. 1942/43), whose promising artistic career was ruined by a mental disease in the early 1910s, so far has been mostly remembered for his dreamy vision of the Jardin de Luxembourg in the permanent exposition of the State Museum of Art in Riga. This publication brings into discussion another, almost obscure aspect of his work - numerous sketchy depictions of the domestic North Latvian scenery, produced in pastels, watercolor or mixed soft media on various rough paper backgrounds of different color. These particularly small and delicate, but boldly stylized series of clouds, forests, marshes and bogs in the graphic collection of the State Museum of Art date back to 1905-1907 when Krastins was studying stage design in the Stieglitz Central School of Technical Drawing in St. Petersburg. Marked by daring simplicity of form, associative use of color and texture, and overpowering intensity of feeling, the studies convey the artist's heartfelt empathy with the life of nature and represent emotional experiences ranging from moody lyricism to anxiety, depression and fear. 'They look very much like colored drawings, yet it seems that the drawing has no other use than to conduct the grand symphony of color. ( ...) And every fragment is brimming with life and vitality, even though the whole is veiled in a deep melancholy', the writer, artist and critic Janis Jaunsudrabins wrote in 1908. Krastins' evocative landscape miniatures are a perfect supplement to the greatly earth-bound picture of early-20th-century Latvian art, but, as their formal and emotional particularity set them apart from the painted work of other compatriots, helpful analogies should be sought elsewhere In terms of emotional expression and formal stylization, similar effects in their landscapes were frequently achieved by Jan Stanislawsky, Edvard Munch, Emil Nolde, Paula Modersohn-Becker, Adolf Hoelzel, Waiter Leistikow, the early Piet Mondrian, Mikolajus Konstantinas Ciurlionis and other artists of international reputation.
  • Kristiana Abele, Institute of Art History of Latvian Academy of Art, Akademijas laukums 1-160, Riga LV-1050, Latvia
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