Arterritory artist of the month: Ivanovs

Latvian painter Ritums Ivanovs (born 1968) answers the “Daily Dozen” questions of internet-based Latvian art portal Arterritory, an art and culture website in Latvian, Russian, and English, which focuses on Baltic, Scandinavian, and Russian art and its manifestations elsewhere in the world. The website’s target audience are readers interested in contemporary cultural phenomena


1. What’s the best moment of your day?

Probably when I'm not thinking –“I am”; that can happen when I'm taken over by a dream, or when my work has taken me to a such a level, that I am elsewhere.

2. Why do you work as an artist?

I believe I'm working on visual culture, including painting; but, if it's possible to get anywhere near art, than that's satisfying.

3. What films, concerts, exhibits, or books have left a lasting impression on you?

I'll be serious here and say Woody Allen's film, Midnight in Paris, because while watching it, I couldn't stop giggling to myself, which was a surprisingly positive effect.

4. Where do you currently get ideas for your works?

It seems that I find them inside of me, however, they are external and visually social stimuli.

5. Which work(s) of art would you like to have in your possession?

I wish to think less and less about private ownership; I increasingly want to feel art's extensive and true power in the most various of manifestations. Museums and galleries have this power.

6. What do you do when you’re not occupied with art?

It's harsh, but it's a kind of existing along with the joy that we “are”; this probably is the largest and most complicated part of life.

7. Do you sleep a lot?

That's probably true.

8. Do you collect anything?

Probably moments of sun, power and energy, which come from experiences in nature and with people.

9. What is one of the most important things in your studio?

Size has no meaning, but light does. Light – it is magic.

10. What do you like to eat, and what don’t you like?

I like wine and fruit.

11. When you were a kid, what did you want to be?

My wishes changed every day, but I was satisfied with a regular pencil and eraser.

12. Name three creative individuals, from any era, with whom you’d gladly spend an evening.

Jarmusch, Lynch, Kim Ki-duk, Barney – probably because their films speak to me and intrigue me; but with my friend, Sandris Rīga, I now know that it is possible to relive the times of the hippies, Pauļuks [a Latvian painter, 1906-1984], and “Kaza”[a period (1962-1970) of relative/illusory freedom in soviet Latvia].

The Latvian painter, Ritums Ivanovs (1968), faithfully keeps to his own road. For more than a decade now, the artist has been working in his signature style – in which nuances change, but the “font” stays the same. Over-sized canvases are covered in Op art-inspired lines; nudes and portraits are portrayed. In the last few years, Ivanovs has been captivated by the icons of popular culture. In painting society's idols, the artist creates portraits of world-famous stars, their close-ups captured in painterly “blue screens”.

Ivanovs held his first solo show in 1999, at “Rīgas Galerija”, which now represents him. Since then, the artist has gained fame and recognition not only in Latvia, but the world over as well. His works can be found in collections in the USA, Australia, Denmark, France, Italy, Korea, the UK, Latvia, Norway, Sweden and Russia – including the Tretyakov State Gallery, in Moscow. Ivanovs has also repeatedly taken part in the Art Moscow contemporary art fair.

In 2009, Ritums Ivanovs, along with Līga Purmale, were the first modern Latvian artists whose works were auctioned off at Britain's prestigious auction house, Sotheby's. In 2011, Ivanov's painting of the super-model, Kate Moss, was featured on the DVD cover of the film, Kate. Creating an Icon. The documentary film is a compilation of conversations with supporters of the cult that surrounds the famous model, and includes an interview with Ritums Ivanovs, who is accompanied in the film by his own personal idols in art – Lucian Freud, Bansky, etc. 

Ivanovs studied for a year at Humboldt University in California (1994-1995), and received his master's degree in 1996 from the Latvian Academy of Art's Department of Painting. Since 1999, he has been a member of the Artists' Union of Latvia.

More info: Arterritory portal

Ivanovs at Dense Space of Arsenals
Jackson painting at annual LV contemporary art exhibition