NOAR Nordic and Baltic contemporary art platform

The Young Painter Prize of Nordic and Baltic Young Artist Award was handed out to Laura Veļa, who graduated from the Art Academy of Latvia last year. Her artwork Time.Identity, which comprised 144 paintings as objects combined in a multimedia installation, is showing the uncertainty and abstraction of time and memories.

First of all, congratulations! 

Thank you! It was and still is a great surprise, the reality hasn’t completely kicked in. I’m always in significant doubt if the thing that I do is good enough. I concluded recently that this feeling is entirely normal, even a good one. In considerable amounts, self-doubt is a way for self-growth. The most important thing about the prize is the thought that I’m kinda on the right track. 

You won the Young Painting Prize with installation “Time.Identity” showing the uncertainty and abstraction of time and memories. Please explain your artwork a bit – what inspired you in creating it? 

The first meaningful discoveries that the world is more complex than I thought came when I started my first bachelor studies in information technologies. Then I had to study in-depth mathematics and physics and learnt that there are so many uncertainties about how the world is perceived. I think that the greatest mystery of all is time, time fascinates me. In my research, I used phenomenological reduction and showed my perception of time. The most inspiration came from St. Augustine’s book “Confessions”, it correlated with the knowledge that the most that we could feel of time are the smallest time segments of something passing. Augustine writes about the process of remembering time as an infinite number of images; I used this idea in constructing my time matrix. After reading Bergson’s research about time, the installation was supplemented with sound, as with sound, you enjoy the moment in time when what you have heard comes together with the expectation of what you will listen to. 

What inspires you explicitly on that topic? 

How different memories shape our own identity. How testing the limits of mental abilities feel like. With time I can’t figure out how it works, I can only perceive it instinctively and sensory. And I love a good challenge. 

How has the last year, 2020, brought us a pandemic and influenced our way of living, influenced you, the way you work and create art?

Oh, a lot. I was overdramatic at times, yes. When it was said at first that the presentation of masters thesis would be only via a digital medium, I was devastated. Thought about my big plans, research and work for two years going to waste, my home studio was a place where the temperature was only 7 to 10 degrees. I felt anxiety as never before. Couldn’t imagine that my master thesis would be a .pdf document and some .jpegs. My way out was to work without any attention to Covid19 regulations, and to make the best of the space that I have with my artworks. Now I couldn’t imagine it to be different. 

When everybody is talking about how this pandemic time is a blessing I want to object. There is no blessing in closed culture events, no socializing and people losing their jobs.

However, this has been a fantastic time in retrospect. I had three personal exhibitions last year, plus my master’s show in my studio. I participated in a magnificent art project “Točka” and now this award. It is still a mystery for me how it is possible. Maybe I work more in my studio as there are fewer distractions. I don’t know. Don’t like to think much about the pandemic, there is too much information already each day, the best part of the day is time spent in the studio creating my reality, and there is no virus there. 

Has art and being an artist always been the only option for you? How did you find your way into the field?

Oh, this is a good question. I guess it always was the only option, but I didn’t know that. When I finished high school, there was too much propaganda for young people to choose what to study based on job income afterwards. So, I told my parents that I don’t want to be poor and stupid artists, left my music studies, and studied information technologies. However, there was always something off with my choices, I never felt satisfaction in life. After my studies, I worked as a web designer and started to paint in the evening to make my designer skills better. Or was it an excuse, I don’t know. Then art took over. I find that being an artist is not a hobby; it is my main job.

There is no sin in loving a job. I would wish it for everybody – to work in a field that makes you joy.  

Do you have any so-to-say heroes in the art field that you look up to and keep an eye on?

There are many and changing, I love the works of Anselm Kiefer, Francis Bacon, Marlen Dumas. Recently I came to like the performances of Marina Abramovic.  

What are your plans for the next 1-2 years, when and where could we see your artworks next?

Well, my plans are very flexible, as now it is not possible to plan something. However, I’m working on my next exhibition in Vilnius, Lithuania, happening shortly, when everything will blossom again. Also, I have plans for my next solo show here in Riga, Latvia. The most important goal of all is to continue working in my studio, the upcoming shows in some foreseeable future is a plan good enough for me. Oh, and I plan to make a big celebration for all the events not appropriately celebrated. 🙂