Henrijs Preiss Exhibited at The Saatchi Gallery

Henrijs Preiss


Acrylic and varnish on wood

25 x 24 cm

Henrijs Preiss studied set design in his native Latvia before coming to London to study art. He thinks about his paintings in relation to theatre: his abstract shapes look like blueprints for stage settings where the viewer might imagine actors’ movements or different possible stories. Preiss’s work is influenced by a wide variety of cultural sources, from religious painting to urban architecture and computer game graphics. Preiss uses the imagery and styles of these references to make his abstract patterns. Each of his paintings is based around a central motif that suggests a mystical emblem. Preiss creates his designs to question ideas about power and belief.

Henrijs Preiss


Acrylic and varnish on board

99 x 123 cm

Russian Orthodox icon paintings are often characterised by stylised figures that are posed to tell a story; they are often set within ornate geometric designs. Traditionally icons are made very small so that worshippers can handle them. These paintings are a source of inspiration for Preiss. His work adopts similar compositions, and encourages a devotional contemplation. The idea of experiencing a painting through touch as well as by looking at it is important to Preiss. Like icons, his works are painted on wooden panels, and are varnished to make them more alluring and durable. Preiss renders his paintings with heavily textured surfaces which invite the viewer to imagine what they might feel like. (No matter how tempting, please do not touch the artworks!)

Henrijs Preiss


Acrylic and varnish on board

121 x 122 cm

Geometric patterning has been used throughout history – from Islamic and Hindu temples to medieval manuscripts and Masonic heralds – to signify spiritual power. In the past, this power, and how it has been represented in art, was often appropriated for political means through the relationships between church and state. In modern times, religion became less important and political ideologies became affiliated with art that represented progressive values. In Russia, the Constructivists were associated with communism because their abstract designs envisioned an art for the people. This movement is an important reference point for Preiss. His work engages with the history of abstraction and patterning as a utopian ideal. Preiss describes his compositions as “symbolic archetypes”, which means he considers his paintings as a “universal language” that can be enjoyed by people from all cultures and backgrounds.

Henrijs Preiss


Acrylic and varnish on board

84 x 121 cm

The weathered appearance of Preiss’s paintings makes them look like historical artefacts, but they also seem very contemporary. Preiss’s process is very laborious and physically involved and each painting takes about one month to complete. The pumice-like textures of his paintings are made by scratching and sanding the surface with etching and power tools. In No.240 this ‘decayed’ appearance is suggestive of an urban environment. Alongside art history, the city of London, with its prestigious architecture and big city grime, sparks Preiss’s creativity. The star is like a building plan or advertisement bearing the traces of everyday use and wear, like something that’s been left to the elements of a city street.

Other artists in

Caroline Achaintre    Tasha Amini    Hurvin Anderson    Maurizio Anzeri    Jonathan Baldock    Anna Barriball    Steve Bishop    Karla Black    Lyn. Yiadom Boakye    Pablo Bronstein    Alan Brooks    Peter Linde Busk    Carla Busuttil    Nicholas Byrne    Gareth Cadwallader    Juliana Cerqueira Leite    Spartacus Chetwynd    Steven Claydon    Clarisse d'Arcimoles    William Daniels    Matthew Darbyshire    Graham Durward    Tim Ellis    Tom Ellis    Richard Evans    Tessa Farmer    Marcus Foster    Robert Fry    Ximena Garrido-Lecca    Jaime Gili    Nick Goss    Luke Gottelier    Kate Groobey    Anthea Hamilton    Anne Hardy    Gabriel Hartley    Nicholas Hatfull    Iain Hetherington    Alexander Hoda    Sigrid Holmwood    James Howard    Graham Hudson    Dean Hughes    Des Hughes    Mustafa Hulusi    Paul Johnson    Edward Kay    Idris Khan    Scott King    Ansel Krut    littlewhitehead    Christina Mackie    Alastair Mackinven    Goshka Macuga    Ryan Mosley    Rupert Norfolk    Arif Ozakca    Mark Pearson    Dan Perfect    Peter Peri    Olivia Plender    Henrijs Preiss    Ged Quinn    Clunie Reid    Barry Reigate    Luke Rudolf    Maaike Schoorel    Daniel Silver    David Brian Smith    Renee So    Fergal Stapleton    Clare Stephenson    Systems House    Caragh Thuring    Phoebe Unwin    Donald Urquhart    Jonathan Wateridge    John Wynne    Toby Ziegler

Henrijs Preiss's Biography

Henrijs Preiss
1973 Born in Riga, Latvia
Lives and works in London


MA Scenography, Central Saint Martins

Professional degree in Scenography, Art Academy of Latvia

BA Scenography, Art Academy of Latvia


The Third Degree, Sesame Art Gallery, London

Icon Resistance, Sesame Art Gallery, London, UK

Sesame Art Gallery, London
Istaba Gallery, Riga, Latvia

Salon des Arts, London

Pfefferbank Gallery, Berlin

Galerie-Werkstatt, Berlin


Henrijs Preiss & Yuko Nasu, Depth Charge, Sesame Gallery, London, UK
This Is London, Henrijs Preiss & Matthew Small, DIE Gallery, Seoul, South Korea

PLUS, Volume Projects, Southwark, London
Innerer Klang, curated by Irene Bradbury, Rod Barton, London
East End Accademy, Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK
Whitecross gallery, London, UK

Summer exhibition, Royal Academy, London, UK
Group, Lois Lambert Gallery, LA, US
Whitecross gallery, London, UK

Building a Legacy: Paintings 1985-2007, Bemis Center For Contemporary Arts, Omaha, Ne, US
Bridge Art Fair-Represented by Sesame Art Gallery, London

Visual AIDS, Postcards From the Edge, New York, US
Regroup, Sesame Art Gallery, London, UK
Summer show, Edgarmodern Gallery, Bath, UK

Sense & Sensuality, BlindArt, RCA, London

The Discerning Eye, The Mall Galleries, London

Religion, Art & War, Salon des Arts, London, UK
Painting on wood, Bastejs Gallery, Riga, Latvia

The Discerning Eye, The Mall Galleries, London

East Art Gallery, Berlin, Germany
International Scenic Design Exhibition "Prague Quadrennial 99",Prague, Czech Republic

Pfefferbank Gallery, Berlin, Germany
State Academy of Art exhibition of artists from Latvia, Brussels, Belgium
Galerie-Werkstatt , Berlin, Germany
Scenobox - 2000, the exhibition of Latvian and Finnish scenographers, Riga, Latvia

1995 International Scenic Design Exhibition "Prague Quadrennial 95", Prague, Czech Republic.