21 January – 11 February 2006
Born in 1981, the young Latvian artist, Janis Avotins, has most recently attracted attention predominantly through showings of his small, figurative paintings at international art fairs and (until January of 2006) in our partner-gallery, Johnen + Schöttle in Cologne. In the present exhibition, the Johnen Galerie Berlin debuts Avontins’ newest, large-sized paintings.
Janis Avontins paints with acrylics on canvas. One the one hand, his paintings appear devised in great detail. On the other and in apparent contradiction, a diffuse light conceals discernable details within a haze of color and light. More than in the case of his earlier work, the new large-sized canvasses seem to connect several spacial and temporal layers in their interaction of motifs.
This quasi-multiple-exposure, unusual clippings from snapshot-like scenes, or the use of pale, often shadowy, earthy tones together suggest the use of old photographs as visual sources. Although his paintings, in terms of technique and color, are reminiscent of Luc Tuyman’s work, Avontins’ work differs in its lack of a direct connection to concrete events. The paintings depict neither a clearly defined place nor a recognizable event. Rather, they suggest the impression of suddenly remembering a dream.
The situations displayed seem vague, as if anyone could have experienced them. They show tense constellations of figures, like from photos of theatrical scenes, momentary compositions that will unravel in the next instant. As in a good stage production, fleeting relationships, independent of the plot, refer to more general situations.
The encounters of the depicted individuals appear to present abstract ideas that go above and beyond the moment. Despite their size and through the observer's ability to relate to them, the paintings achieve a startling intimacy.