Low Gallery, Riga by Séverine Grosjean

In all times,  emerging or rebel artists have been looking for places to meet with audiences different from the usual channels of commerce.

At the exhibition opening of: A.BRAN Life VS Hope


Exhibition Maija Kurševa & Vents Vīnbergs – Pagrīde

From their protesting beginnings to their current position in a globalized and hyperconnected scene, independent art spaces have evolved and form a thousand and one facets of the “off” world of art in the making.


The Alternative Space is a new tool to discover art. Although they are difficult to characterize, two constants generally bring them together: they do not pursue lucrative goals, they are often directed by artists interested in curatorial questions.

Exhibition Katrīna Čemme & Ieva Putniņa – Oda X.


Exhibition Līga Spunde & Klāvs Mellis – Kā mani

In the basement of a building, LOW gallery is founded in 2017. An artist-run space is a place of spontaneous ideas and manifestations of alive artistic process. The gallery fosuses on young talents and artist collaborations. It is an alternative place, bursting with energy and activity directed by the Latvian artist Maija Kurseva, known to be a rebellious child. Low Gallery mixes the passionate passion, the discoveries of young artists, revolts against the established system, the resourcefulness, the fatigue to fight each project and the trick to always present interesting exhibitions.

Exhibition Ieva Filatova & Marta Kalniņa – Varbūt varētu


Exhibition Grāmata Daudz labāk!

Low Gallery is a place of discovery, the exchanges are permanent. Maija Kurseva decided to create alternative contemporary art events, performances, installations. Low Gallery is a label that aims to promote young artists. Maija Kurseva is a teacher. Wishing to find a space in which her students can exhibit their work as the last exhibition gathering Ieva Filatova Marta Kalnina and Varbut Varetu. Managed by and for artists, the space alternates between solo exhibitions and groups, where experienced and less well-known artists meet.

In addition to the gallery, Maija Kurseva presents the work of Latvian artists at Popper Publishing, also in Riga.

11 June 2018 / by / in ,
Earth, sky and breathing

For the Alternative Art Guide we selected the artists Mārtiņš Ratniks, Kaspars Podnieks and Daiga Krūze who, having left a significant mark on the Latvian art scene at a tender early age, are still well and kicking today.

Mārtiņš Ratniks (1975) works in video, media art, book design and sound. His early work within the artist group F5 can be viewed as crucial to reinvigorating the Latvian contemporary art scene of the late nineties and early noughties. Their übercool stance and club culture related output attracted a considerable following, and a number of imitators, too. After representing Latvia at the 25th Sao Paolo Biennale in Brazil (2002) and the 51st Venice Biennale (2005) the group faded somewhat, but Ratniks produced a number of solo shows.

“Fields” (RIXC Media Space, Riga, 2007) featured a wall of 30 CRT television sets stuck in a flickering pause on a single apparently abstract frame, while “Land” (kim? contemporary art centre, Riga, 2010) featured an endless glide across a terra incognita reminiscent of thermal imaging, “2001: ASpace Odissey” and a falling dream. The latest, “Projections” (kim? contemporary art centre, Riga, 2011), was exactly that – geometrically reduced projected images.

In one, a fine white line described the figure 8 on its side, chosing a slightly new path with each cycle, thus in 26 minutes filling the screen with a blinding white. On the opposite wall two projections merged into one, inviting the observer to question whether the seen is two- or three-dimensional. His idiosyncratic take on technology has found a fitting habitat in RIXC, the new media culture centre in Riga. While manipulating publicly accessible data and remixing scientific visual imagery, Ratniks is in no way your contemporary research-based artist. Instead, he creates landscapes where the spectator’s imagination has to travel in order to do its own fieldwork.


If you asked Kaspars Podnieks (1980) to expand a little beyond the title of his shows “Unusual Place” and “Communicating Vessels” (both at kim? contemporary art centre, Riga, 2010 and 2011, respectively), he would probably deny everything. Although the exhibited works are framed photographs, he would protest at being called a photographer.

He would also squirm at the sound of the word “performance”, even though the images have caught him and his kin levitating inexplicably at an indefinite height above ground. After expressing a distaste for being called an artist he would go on an agitated rant about a “special place”. Podnieks comes from a small rural settlement in a picturesque part of Latvia where his parents run a farm. He still works on it and his special relationship with Drusti is underlined by his becoming a local politician.

Building a precarious contraption to stand on a good half a dozen metres above ground, welding a slowly rotating crane for two monitors showing a cow grazing, or painting a meadow and a tractor in scarlet so that from a certain point across the lake a red square can be seen – all that is shoved under the modest cover of “things on the side”. What matters, is that it is in and about a particular location. “I come from there and I am there. There I gain the certainty that the work will be true and thus worthwhile to the others as well.”

At a time when an artist’s birthplace is the bit that comes before “lives and works in Berlin”, Podnieks’ dedication to his village is special, and so is his art.


Daiga Krūze (1980) graduated from the Art Academy of Latvia as a painter in 2004. Her works caught everyone off guard. At a time when Lavian painting seemed to be hopelessly bogged down with tired exercises in virtuosity and regurgitation of art history, the large-scale works from the series “Streets” came as a much needed breath of fresh air.

The lonely characters treading the blue perspectives feature giant heads, swollen with a mixture of half-laid philosophies, shopping lists and Mike Skinner’s lyrics. Paintings like “Street as Catwalk”, “Chicks” and “Screen Saver” betray both fascination with and questioning of contemporary urban culture, but they never degrade into criticism.

Her first show “100% Disappointment” (at a vacated car dealer’s, Riga, 2004) lasted for three days only, yet it won her the first art prize (“Debut of the Year”, Artists Union and Culture Capital Foundation).

With the rising critical acclaim, an increasing number of followers, and even an interest from our feeble art market, conditions were ripe for a new local star to be born. Instead of capitalising on it, Krūze surprised us again by turning her gaze to nature.

Having grown up in the country, she had never strayed too far from it. From glimpses of how one passes an involuntary spare hour every morning in the city parks (“At Seven o‘clock”, gallery Pedants, Riga, 2006) to quiet adventures during long walks to the woods (“You Are What You See”, gallery 21, Riga, 2009), to what must be one of the largest paintings in Latvia, a 5 by 6 metre canvas titled “Sounds of the Sunrise” (2011), Krūze’s shows are collections of evanescent, yet profound moments.

30 June 2017 / by / in
The Reminiscence of Tangibility

The choice I had to make forthe Alternative Art Guide was not an easy one. The notion ‘localism’ that should form the decision on the material selected for it, is ambiguous and discussible. If to believe and follow the words put by Zygmunt Bauman, who speaks about uncertainty and non-margin situation, when everything is fluid, there is no local anymore; what we are experiencing now is an acceleration of liquidity. Trying to avoid the constructed opposition of ‘local’ versus ‘center’, I have chosen to present three Latvian artists – Evita Vasiļjeva, Inga Meldere and Kaspars Groševs, who actually are not local in the sense that they would be based or tied exclusively to the Latvian art scene. Instead they are very active internationally, as two of them have spent (or are still spending) some time studying abroad, and all of them exhibit their work in various exhibitions and engage themselves in different contexts, cultures and networks. They all are in their early careers. The way their artistic styles have developed refers to local influences and traditions. In other words, the points of departure that, be they more visible or hidden, reflect on the local, Latvian context, which is seen as oriented towards the poetic and the picturesque. Thus this presentation turns out to be about tangibility, memory of materials, their surfaces, an urge to expand or to overcome borders and to seek definitions that, once found, immediately slip away.

Evita Vasiļjeva

The making of a piece, the process of a production of an object, when one is coming into the world, being shaped and framed, is a subject of interest in Evita Vasiļjeva’s artistic practice. As a fresh graduate of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Evita pays attention to materiality, exploring the old notion of substance that serves as clay in the arms of an artist. There is something about a state of becoming rather than about being finished. The forms and structures of her work look incomplete, found in a process of transformation, smooth and flowing. These objects or installations or whatever they may be called, could even be referred to as a new sculpture that both resembles the features of sculpting in terms of an old medium, where the process of molding or/and casting, relating to the strong traditions of crafts, is crucial; and encompasses the shift to something else that is not yet definable. The combination of remnants of past and a projection of future possibilities merges in Evita’s work in a very strange and interesting way, offering the lack of presence. “ … little ruins of Modernism and also the molds of some future form that is strangely absent, “ as artist Janice McNab puts it.

Evita Vasiļjeva, Parallel to Vertical, 2013. Courtesy of kim? Contemporary Art Centre, photo by Ansis Starks

Evita Vasiļjeva, Parallel to Vertical, exhibition overview, 2013. Courtesy of kim? Contemporary Art Centre, photo by Ansis Starks

Evita Vasiļjeva, Parallel to Vertical, exhibition overview, 2013. Courtesy of kim? Contemporary Art Centre, photo by Ansis Starks

Evita Vasiļjeva & Frederique Pisuisse, Indian Summer, exhibition overview, 2013. Courtesy Galerie Fons Welters, photo by Gert Jan van Rooij.

Evita Vasiļjeva, A Face Free from Worries I & My Friend is Asleep II, from the exhibition Indian Summer, 2013. Courtesy Galerie Fons Welters, photo by Gert Jan van Rooij.

Evita Vasiļjeva, Chapter 2, 2012

Inga Meldere

Fragility and sensitiveness comes to mind, when looking at Inga Meldere’s artistic practice. That is mostly related to the impression of how her works are created – gentle touch, carefully selected, earthy colours and an intuitive approach towards the narrative are all elements involved in her work. The images and characters may seem simplified or even childish, because they resemble our childhood drawings and clumsy reflections of visions of the outside world put on paper. Inga has been considered to be one of the gifted young painters from Latvia. Her art pieces encompass not only some level of picturesqueness, something traditional in terms of local painting, when mentioning the colour scheme she has been using, but also the urge to widen the borders or to expand the possibilities of painting, by keeping the media modes of expression. It seems that painting serves as a point of departure providing with the tools of expression that further are mixed or complement each other in other media. Inga is currently working on the research project “The Great Great Disappointment” at De Jan Van Eyck Academie, where she focus on emotional experience, traumas, expectations and truths that may collapse or fail at a certain moment in our lives.

Inga Meldere, Baby’s tears, 40×45, canvas oil, 2013

Inga Meldere, One body 2, 17×15,5cm, paper oil, 2013

Inga Meldere, Structures 2, 15,5x17cm, paper oil, 2013

Inga Meldere, Architecture, 15,5x17cm, paper oil, 2013

Inga Meldere, Architecture 2, 15,5x17cm, paper oil, 2013

Inga Meldere, Fervor, 17×15,5cm, paper oil, 2013

Inga Meldere, Fontane B, 15,5x17cm, oilonpaper, 2013

Inga Meldere, However, tell me the secret, 35x45cm, oil on canvas, 2013

Inga Meldere, Under Mercury Star, mini installation performance, 2013

Kaspars Groševs

Kaspars Groševs aims to create continuations that avoid completeness. It doesn’t matter if these are exhibitions, art pieces, publications or articles – all of these forms are produced with an intention to extend them in time. Therefore Kaspars usually deals with those elements, sequences, excerpts, fragments, episodes, chapters etc., which could produce different and never repeating combinations. Frequently these are taken from music or popular culture as quotations, or even form the works of friends or other artists. For example, in his recent show 00:10:00:00 at kim? Contemporary Art Centre Kaspars used short dance music elements that were played on a drum machine at least every ten minutes. The overall composition was about six hours long, so every ten minutes there was a slightly different timing and an arrangement of beats. Despite his works being subjected to certain structures and algorithms, the art pieces do not aim to be finished  and instead there is some kind of uncertainty and elusiveness about them. That seems to appear from Kaspars’ interest in experiments. He is not afraid of failures, quite the opposite, he uses his own and his friends’ failed attempts and disconnections in order to create abstract systems that reflect on the presence of liquidity and fluidity.

Tape (exhibited in exhibition 00:10:00:00) SIDE 15: Casio CTK-900 & delay; Drums & tape feedback for Vivienne Griffin; Burps & Sines by Edgars Rubenis; RMIF Ti-5; Found reel on a dysfunctional Orbita 107C; Hohner Consul R/8; A drum practice; Testing feedback on the Daina reel to reel; Excerpt from an improvisation session with Martins Rokis; Jomox XBase 09 pattern on a damaged tape; A tape loop (possibly from a Dr. Dre record)

Kaspars Groševs, XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX,  exhibition 00:10:00:00, kim? Contemporary Art Centre, 2013

Kaspars Groševs, >>, ongoing performance during exhibition 00:10:00:00, kim? Contemporary Art Centre, 2013

Kaspars Groševs, UNTITLED, exhibition H, Kaņepe Culture Centre, 2012

Kaspars Groševs, C30, C60, C90, exhibition H, Kaņepe Culture Centre, 2012

Kaspars Groševs, Publication 00:10:00:00, self-published,  2013

Kaspars Groševs, Publication H, self-published, 2012

Maija Rudovska

Maija Rudovska (1982, Latvia) is an independent curator, researcher and art historian from Latvia, based in Riga. She has completed Curatorlab postgraduate studies at Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm and has obtained an MA from the Art Academy of Latvia. Currently she is working on her PhD thesis at the Art Academy of Latvia and is exploring Soviet era architecture. Rudovska has curated/co-curated such projects as Inside and Out at kim? Contemporary Art Centre (2012/2013), Expired Monument: Story of a Culture Palace (with Shirin Sabahi, 2011), Regard: Subversive Actions in Normative Space (Moderna Museet, Sockholm, 2010), Hardijs Ledins (1955-2004) – Zeitgeist and the atmosphere of a place (Riga Art Space, Riga, 2009), and others. At the moment she is running a curatorial network Blind Carbon Copy (with Juste Kostikovaite) and engaging in various curatorial projects. She often writes about contemporary art and architecture.

30 June 2017 / by / in