Mark Rothko ‘returns’ to Daugavpils!

Mark Rothko ‘returns’ to Daugavpils!
Author: Kaspars Garda – Riga 2014 . Performance in Mark Rothko Art Center opening event
Una Griškeviča
26-04-2013 English A+ A-
This was the dominant thought expressed in most of the speeches given on Wednesday, April 24, in the ceremony held in the Arsenal building of Daugavpils fortress as well as in international panel ‘Latvia – one of the stars. Return of Rothko – possibilities and challenges,’ also echoing in the momentous evening event, colored by performance of the well-known Finnish accordionist Kimmo Pohjonen. Meanwhile, since Thursday, April 25, the center and the six Rothko originals it presents in the collection are open to the public.

The wonderful dream came true

The audience of the panel was addressed by Mark Rothko’s children Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko as well as art experts art historians Eduards Kļaviņš, Ojārs Spārītis, Helēna Demakova from Latvia  and more – from abroad.

‘Father used to show me his homeland on the map.’

‘And I will never forget how warmly we were welcomed in the faraway 2003 on my and my brother’s first visit of Daugavpils to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Mark Rothko,’ artist’s daughter remembered, adding that the wonderful dream to create an art center bearing the name of her father has come true. ‘This is a special place to organize international plain-airs and artist residences in, encouraging the development of art,’ K. Rothko Prizel underlined.

Mark Rothko’s children Christopher and Kate. Kaspars Garda, Riga 2014

Kate Rothko Prizel’s brother Christopher who is engaged in organization of his father’s retrospections all over the world (to add, the six Rothko originals now presented in Daugavpils, come from the family’s private collection) said: ‘Attention turned to Rothko’s contribution to art is only increasing by time, which is why I hope that this center in father’s native town will become a significant institute in terms of the study of his artistic heritage.’

Discussion ‘Latvia – one of the stars. Return of Rothko – possibilities and challenges.’ Photo: Kaspars Garda, Riga 2014

Will support development of culture in the region

Art historian and curator Helēna Demakova emphasized that the newly opened Mark Rothko Art Center has become an art center of Eastern European significance, and it will be the only venue in Eastern Europe to offer the original work of the world famous artist, who is born in Daugavpils and represent one of the most vivid examples of the development of culture in the region. ‘The Center provides a chance to discuss what matters the most, to quote Mark Rothko. Otherwise, we have found ourselves in the absurd situation when art local art publications mention the Latvia-born world famous artist extremely rarely and he has been omitted in the original as well as translated literature on Western contemporary art published in the XX century. There are only notes on professor Eduards Kļaviņš lectures’ H. Demakova concluded. Art historian also indicated that opening of such a center gives her as a lecturer the opportunity to widen the practice of presenting and teaching contemporary art.

Kaspars Garda, Riga 2014

‘Although Mark Rothko was one of those who made New York – the city he lived and studied in – the center of art, he remains European, and Rothko’s paintings are a phenomenon. It is wonderful that the genius is home again.’

Reminding that the last of Mark Rothko’s exhibitions in Latvia were held ten years ago in the National Museum of Art of Latvia, H. Demakova’s words were upheld by the director of NMAL Māra Lāce: ‘Thanks to Farida’s initiative and the readiness to collaborate demonstrated by artist’s children, all the forces and stars conspired in favor of creating this center. It has a great potential, in fact, as an exhibition hall to realize major projects, which is why I invite the inhabitants of Daugavpils to try and apprehend what this artist and his presence will be able to give their town as well as entire Latvia.’ The speakers also highlighted the fact of keen participation of then ambassador of the USA Brian Carlson and Mrs. Marcia Carlson in preparation of the hundredth anniversary of the artist ten years ago, which transformed Daugavpils beyond recognition and this jubilee turned into a town festival.

Chair of Daugavpils City Council Žanna Kulakova, daughter of Mark Rothko Kate Rothko and the speaker of the Parliament of Latvia Solvita Āboltiņa. Photo: Kaspars Garda, Riga 2014

‘I find myself between heaven and earth!’

…said the author of the idea of the Center and curator of exposition Farida Zaletilo in conversation with cultural portal 'Riga 2014.' ‘Recalling how difficult it was to convince the administration of the town ten years ago that such a center is necessary, now I understand that you just have to keep dreaming and follow your dream leading you.’ First, Farida’s efforts were rewarded in Mark Rothko’s children Kate and Christopher arriving to Daugavpils to celebrate the centenary jubilee of their father.

‘I knew it to be a bit of a wild undertaking, but two people independently of each other forwarded me their address and I wrote them a letter. That was the beginning of all this.’

She is still overcome by a feeling of unreality as she looks back at all that has happened since. ‘It seems that I am suspended somewhere between heaven and earth! curator laughs and mentions that ‘the happiness question’ about what has been achieved must wait for some more days to be answered.

Finnish accordionist Kimmo Pohjonen. Riga 2014

Farida Zaletilo also tells that the six originals will be far from all of Rothko’s paintings to be presented in the new art center; if only agreement would be reached with artist’s children and all the complex insurance formalities covered, the audience will have chance to see wider Rothko collection as well. ‘We have a list of a variety of events to come: scientific conferences, a program of films about Rothko; it is possible that a play dedicated to the artist will also see the light.’ And, according to Farida Zaletilo, the Center is open to activities of artists from all over Latvia as well as specifically – from Latgale region, of course.

Brand name for entire Latvia

‘We estimate that our Center will be attended by around 90 thousand visitors every year,’ the personnel of the Center purports, now inviting to observe the display of Mark Rothko’s originals ‘The Sacrifice of Ifigenia,’ ‘Mother and Child,’ ‘The High Priest,’ ‘Untitled,’ ‘Nr 10 (brown, black, sienna on dark wine)’ and ‘Nr 7 (orange and chocolate)’ along with reproductions and video reproductions of other of artist’s works. The new art center also offers expositions of work of Peter Griffin (Great Britain) and ceramics artist Pēteris Martinsons,  paintings of Solomon Gershov and the collection of work of the annual international plain-airs.
‘The strategy and plans are prepared for the next five years; this year, we have 140 events, thirty of which, including Mark Rothko’s 110th jubilee, will be major ones. Four plain-airs are envisaged – for graphic artists, painters, ceramic artists and art critics. I know our plans may sound ambitious, but we have a lot to offer indeed; members of our personnel are excellent, and Daugavpils is a beautiful town.’

Which is why I believe we will be able to bring our plans to fruition!’ the deputy director of the Center Māris Čakča assured in his address, agreeing with the speakers who had underlined that Rothko Center must become a brand name not only for Daugavpils, but for entire Latvia.

The reconstruction project of artillery arsenal to be turned into Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Center received the Grand prix in the category Restoration in annual review The Best Construction in Latvia 2012 held by Latvia’s Builders Association, the Ministry of Culture informed.  

We will remind that a total of 1.4 million lats were invested in the project ‘Reconstruction of the corpus of artillery arsenal for Daugavpils Mark Rothko Art Center,’ 1.2 million of which was the ERAF funding administered by the Ministry of Culture, 185.7 thousand  came as municipal funding, but 42.8 lats summed up as the state budget finance.


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