Vitauts Almanas (1965-2007)
Was born in 1965 and lives in Riga ( Latvia ). He first started draw at the age of four. His happiest memories of childhood are those of being allowed to paint. While enrolled at The Janis Rosental's Art School ( a secondary school )- 1976-83, and then subsequently at The Latvian Academy of Arts in 1983-89. Almanas intensely studied the works of masters. Content only when he is working, he has become a maverick in the artistic community of Riga, most often seen around town wearing a white brocade vest and ruffled " poet's " shirt. A loner by nature, Almanas's paintings reflect this. Although the artist does cast the members of his family for the figures in his paintings, he most often uses himself as the subject. Almanas estimates he has painted over 1,000 self-portraits. " When you paint another person they try to influence you, your art. I paint self-portraits both from memory and using a mirror. This way I can interpret myself both physically as well as my state of mind." The paintings of Vitauts Almanas are an extension of his being, his environment either real or surreal, and a fascinating look into the mind of the Latvia's leading " New Generation" artists.
Primarily a figurative painter, Almanas uses the figure to recreate the impact of an unconscious moment. The look cast by the subject, the intensity of a gaze or the portrayal of a single fluid gesture invite the viewer to take a closer look. So subtly composed are the paintings that one does not at first artist is a master of the theatrical. Having worked in the opera for short period of time, Almanas approaches each new piece with the eye of director and producer. The figures, like all good actor, are composed and calm in playing their parts. Even in the works portraying broad, sweeping motion, each movement comes off as practiced elegance.
And in fact, Elegant" is a term that can be applied to the painting of Vitauts Almanas. The colors and the figures often hint at 17th century Dutch masterpieces. Romantic background setting, an air of nonchalance, and the play of rich drapery all create a mood of faded grandeur. The effect is a strange juxtaposition of the present onto the past. To emphasize this, Almanas has simulated the technique of the masters; rich glazes and varnishes cast a soft golden light and create a rich texture of several often transparent layers. Even his more abstracted pieces have a barogue feeling. " L believe that one cannot create anything new without understanding what has been creates in the past. I am constantly studying and leaning. I feel a need to work through myself every thing that has happened before me".
Group Exhibitions: Riga, Latvia; Vilnius, Lithuania; Moscow, USSR; Berlin, Germany; Vienna, Austria; Sydney, Australia.
Personal Exhibitions: Latvia: Bauska-1984, Ogre-1984, Baldone-1986, Jelgava-1988, Dobele-1988, Aluksne-1988, Jurmala - 1989; Germany: Belin-1990.
Selected collections: London, England; Dusseldorf, Cologne, Bremen, Germany; Paris, France; Bratislava, Slovakia; Warsaw, Poland; Budapest, Hungry; Pome, Italy; Helsinki, Finland; Stokholm, Sweden; Ottava, Canada; Tokyo, Japan; Tel-Avia, Israel; Sydney, Melburn, Australia; New York, USA.