The time has come for Jānis Kalniņš’ (b.1976) first solo exhibition, “A Quiet Life”. It will be held at the Daugava gallery December 3 through New Year’s Day. Although he has mostly been painting since graduating from the Art Academy in 2008, it is only this year that he finally started thinking about an exhibition. Clearly, there is much for a young artist to learn as painting is much more than merely arranging colour areas on canvas.
The small size still-lifes displayed in this exhibition seem to indicate that his moment has arrived. Jānis Kalniņš’ artworks are partially reminiscent of 17th century Dutch painting. He paints only what and how he sees. In the late 16th century this approach to painting would have been considered revolutionary as it violated the prevailing canons and traditions. However today, this young artist is not considered a revolutionary. His chosen path in painting is depicting still-life, the objects and his surroundings and characterized by simplicity, clarity and utmost truthfulness as well as genuine sincerity. There is also a touch of naivety that might seem charming: a rosy raspberry on a white dish, the cheek of an apple with freckles on it, and especially the scale arrangement on the back of a bream, much like a filigree jeweler’s work with those gradations of brown hues and the tonal relationships in the mushroom caps.
The world of objects and places that Jānis Kalniņš paints is his life. It may be a view through the studio window or the interior of a barn and surrounding things. That is the world where human relationships as well as those with nature really matter. It might be a place devoid of noisiness and pretences where one can ponder on life. This exhibition is worth seeing.