From February 26, the Mūkusala Art Salon presents "Invasion", an exhibition of painter Juris Utāns' latest works, in which he turns to recent social discussions and problems. Juris Utāns can be seen as a representative of social art, which has always addressed the viewer through the social absurd of everyday life, of which there is no lack. He likes to provoke people's reaction, thus inviting them to participate in that process which is called life.
The visual basis of the paintings are the surrounding events, through which he traces contemporary urban dramas – tragedies, violence, aggression and the lies of the political scene. In his art, Utāns uses the language of symbols, which critically draws attention to social, ethical and, in the new exhibition, also political amorality. The graphically expressive large-format paintings with a broad thematic range deal with a complicated riddle of life, where the real environment naturally blends with the irreal, irritating vision and mind. Although the message of the works is rather direct and critical, it is not moralising, instead it invites us to recognise the essential and treat it responsibly. Through his characteristic means, Utāns confronts members of various groups of society, calling for a critical analysis of their influence on the ideals of society. The paintings are inhabited by personalities from popular magazines, who have bestowed cult status upon themselves, which the society has uncritically accepted, thus becoming hostage to the situation.
Juris Utāns graduated from Janis Rozentāls Riga Art Highschool (1977) and the Department of Painting at the LSSR State Academy of Art (1984), continuing his studies at the workshop of Eduards Kalniņš and Boriss Bērziņš at the USSR Academy of Art (1987–1990). Since 1987, he has been a lecturer at the Faculty of Education, Psychology and Art at the University of Latvia, and associate professor since 2015.
Curator of the exhibition Diāna Barčevska
Press image: Juris Utāns. "We Are Here?!!". 2015. Polyester, mixed media on canvas. 145 X 185 cm. Photo: Jānis Pipars