The Gallery Daugava entered the Latvian art scene in November, 1993 with the exhibition of Rūdolfs Pinnis works “From the Aiviekste to the Seine”. Its foundation was motivated by the desire to find a place where artists and the public could communicate. Director and actors need a stage, otherwise their existence would never be known, and they would have no opportunity to address their audience. The same is true about artists. They need a place to exhibit their work through which they speak, make us think, dream, meditate, listen to ourselves and respond emotionally and intellectually to their artwork. The artist can be considered a barometer of his time, even if he is not aware of it. Art is created by the artist, but consumed by the viewer. This philosophy motivated us to set up a Gallery and not much has changed. We have just acquired experience, know-how and more understanding. There were solo-exhibitions of Latvian contemporary artists including painters, sculptors, graphic artists, ceramists; as well as competitive, specialized, thematic and conceptual exhibitions. Since the gallery’s opening the art scholar Anda Treija has been its director.
The Gallery Daugava is located in a quiet area near the center of Riga, on the corner of Elizabetes and Ausekļa streets in the first floor of a building built around 1871- 1873. The building was designed by Jānis Fridrihs Baumanis (1834-1891).
He was the first academically educated Latvian architect and is renowned for the design of over 150 buildings including the Orthodox church in Vidzeme, about one-third of the buildings on the boulevard circle in the center of Riga , including the private residence of Emma Mencendorfa, which today houses the French embassy on Rainis boulevard, the Riga Latvian Society House on Merķeļa street, the Riga Regional Court on Brīvības boulevard, the Music Academy on Kr.Barona street and many others. Designs attributed to him also include the open-air stages for the first three Song Festivals (1873., 1880., 1888). While still studying Baumanis was already recognized for his design of the Knights House, the present Saeima in the Old Riga. Baumanis was once the richest Latvian of his time and his lifestyle is legendary. His son Arturs Baumanis studied painting at the Petersburg Art Academy and his painting “The Horse of Destiny” in on permanent exhibition in the National Art Museum.
Not far from the gallery on Ausekļa street, the sculpture “Night Watchman”, an outstanding sculpture by the sculptor Rihards Maurs (1888-1966) can be seen. From the gallery entrance on Elizabetes street one can see ships in the Daugava river, the namesake of the gallery and the largest river of Latvia.
The gallery Daugava is the oldest art gallery in Riga and up to December, 2014 was located in Old Riga. The first quarter of the century has been marked by instability and economic crises that have, as always, affected art community as well, but we are proud to have experienced so much and still survived through all the hardships. The gallery – our story of success will celebrate its 25th birthday on November 23, 2018.
The work of the gallery Daugava has been well recognized. We have received an award, “For the strengthening of the State of Latvia” from the Foreign ministry of the Latvian Republic. On the gallery’s 15th anniversary we received an award from the Ministry of Culture, “For the significant contribution to the development of the Latvian contemporary art”, an Honorary diploma from the Ministry of Defense, a letter of gratitude from Jose Manuel Borrozo for the opportunity to get to know Latvian art. Visitors to the gallery were Prime ministers of Latvia and other countries, Presidents of Latvia Guntis Ulmanis, Valdis Zatlers, Andris Bērziņš and Raimonds Vējonis. Among the gallery visitors were also renowned creative individuals such as Mihails Barišņikovs, Vija Celmiņa, Egils Siliņš and others.
The citizens of Riga know the gallery Daugava first and foremost due to its exhibitions which they frequently visit. For example, the painter Dace Lielā’s exhibition in 2015 attracted 362 visitors per day. Artwork is generally available for purchase but we recognize that affordability is a factor. But despite it we have persevered. We know we are appreciated as the art on display in our gallery appeals to viewers and they keep returning. There is no admission fee in our gallery.
Thanks to the support of the proprietor Guntis Rāvis, the gallery has published art albums on the painting of Imants Vecozols, Biruta Baumane, Biruta Delle. Smaller editions have also been published about the sculptors Vilnis Titāns and Kārils Baumanis, the painters Jānis Annuss, Baiba Vegere, Alberts Pauliņš, photographer Karmels Skutelskis. An album on the painting of Maija Nora Tabaka is currently being prepared. Altogether nearly 500 exhibitions have been held in the gallery Daugava. Additionally, exhibitions on Latvian art were presented in other countries including Germany, France, Great Britain, Norway, Spain, Portugal and Czech Republic. In arranging exhibitions abroad the Foreign ministry of Latvia has provided outstanding support.
About the Gallery, exhibitions and artists writes Anda Treija.