Installation of paintings with pencil and tempera
Exhibition ‘Shared History’, Riga Bourse Latvian Art Museum, 2018
Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947) was a painter, archeologist, philosopher, theosophist and public figure. He dedicated his life to his art and to following of his spiritual masters together with his wife Helena Roerich. He was born in Russia but after October Revolution went on to live in USA and then in India, where he died in 1947.
Roerich Society in Riga was established in 1930. By the end of 1930s the collections contained 45 paintings by artist Nicholas Roerich and 10 by his son Svetoslav. Nowadays the collection is part of the Latvian National Art Museum and usually on display in Riga Bourse, in a room dedicated to Roerich’s work.
in ‘Repeating Roerich’ I am repeating a painting by Nicholas Roerich from 1938, titled ‘Himalaya’. Similarly to Roerich, I am also painting with tempera on cardboard. The paintings also contain my tracing how the production of Roerich, in philosophy and in art, is being continued. Followers of Roerich are varied and can be found in East as in West. In Latvia there are three groups promoting the work of Roerich. Professor of History of Religions at Daugavpils University Anita Stasulane defines them as Latvian Roerich Society devoted to the cultural side, the International Center of the Roerichs orienting toward education and the Aivars Garda group/Latvian National Front focusing in politics.
My interest is in observing similarities and distortions that repeating Roerich causes. For instance, the Latvian National Front is an intolerant right wing group that is using the peace-promoting teachings of Roerich toward their own ends. The work is also an attempt to place the thought of Nicholas and Elena Roerich in context among theosophic thinkers and movements in the late 19th and early 20th Century.
The installation in Riga Bourse also contains two borrowed artworks, two by Ingrida Raudsepa and a two-part painting by Gintautas Stunguris. These are also inspired by Nicholas Roerich’s thought and visuality.
Nicholas Roerich is deeply loved by many, also the staff of the Riga Bourse museum. And the room dedicated to paintings of Nicholas Roerich in the Riga Bourse Museum is considered a sacred space by many. Adding work there was not a simple procedure, but a negotiation.