Selected works by Jānis Avotiņš

Jānis Avotiņš
Untitled

2011

Oil on canvas

50 x 88 cm
With their ghostly, alienated faces and figures reminiscent of Soviet-era photography, Jānis Avotiņš thinly painted canvases draw us into a fragile, elliptic world haunted by collective memory.
Jānis Avotiņš
Untitled

2011

Oil on canvas

46 x 36 cm

In one of Avotiņš’ series, photographs of the heads of two sombre-looking Cold War-era bureaucrats are stripped of their original context andreappearwithin a dark emptiness. Their studied features look crudely eroded, as if rubbed onto, or rubbed out of, a temporary blackboard.

Jānis Avotiņš
Untitled

2011

Oil on canvas

102 x 58 cm

Two gossamer-like female figures – another solemn and almost faceless pair – appear to be walking out of a background of darkness. Their poses, soft silhouettes and the bright illumination on their bodies recall the long-exposure and bleached out feel of early photography, so often showing shapes similarly eked out of an enveloping darkness. They are beautiful, bleak and memorable, all at once.

Jānis Avotiņš
Untitled

2012

Acrylic on canvas

188 x 230 cm

In one work, a ghostly, isolated right hand is placed exactly in the middle of a canvas, becoming the mysterious central focus within an overwhelming nothingness.In other works, singled out yet unrecognizable figures appear framed by a similar vacuum, soaked in washes accompanied by the symbolic material presence of the canvas’s grain. Recent compositions include architectural elements, but figures remain phantom-like, in a state of tension somewhere betweensketchily existing and melting into the background.

Jānis Avotiņš
Untitled

2012

Acrylic on canvas

140 x 260 cm

Often using a minimalistic, monochromatic aesthetic reminiscent of fellow Latvian artist Vija Celmins, Avotiņš’ virtuosic imprimatura washes and technique blur and erase the specificity of his subjects, imbuing his images with an air of mystery, rather than nostalgia. They playfully engage with the relationshipsbetween analogue photography, the way history can edit and turn individuals anonymous, and with our own collective memory-making – impressions fading in and out of existence.

Jānis Avotiņš
I Saw My Bad Approaching

2009

Acrylic on linen

222 x 260 cm
Jānis Avotiņš
Untitled

2009

Acrylic on linen

222 x 260 cm

Text by Lupe Nùñez-Fernández


Articles

JANIS AVOTINS
February 2012, by Gabriel Coxhead, Time Out

Dark, dour, blurry paintings, with photorealistic imagery that's ambiguous or indistinct, even on the verge of fading away altogether - there are a lot of artists producing this sort of stuff, particularly in Eastern Europe, where it's become something of a house style in recent years. So what is it that makes the work of Latvian artist Janis Avotins so much more interesting than that - so exquisitely volatile, yet also bleakly deadpan?
Partly, it's down to his technique, which seems strangely elemental. A thin, imprimatura wash of dark oil paint stains the canvas's weave and lint-flecks to create a gauzy, grainy, speckled effect - like looking into fog or falling ash. Isolated forms and figures emerge - ghostly, luminous, sometimes oddly solarised: the result of leaving areas of canvas wispish and unshaded - presumably as a kind of analogy of pre-digital, photographic printing processes.

Source: timeout.com


BLURRED PROJECTION PORTRAITS
by Jana Pijak, Trend Hunter

These Janis Avotins paintings are artfully eerie with blurred projection images that have a ghost-like quality. The Latvian artist aims to reinterpret history with dynamic imagery that makes a visual impact.
The artist creates his eerie masterpieces from official historical photos found in Soviet archives. He uses the images as a base for his work, putting emphasis on human subjects and eliminating existing backdrops.

Source: trendhunter.com