window of memory
2019, canvas / oil, 12 paintings, 40 x 40 cm, Sierre, Switzerland
The artist Kristaps Priede finds inspiration in the picturesque landscapes of southern Switzerland. The pieces shown at The Valais exhibition reveal the magical and unique nature of the largest canton in the south of Switzerland, where the snow-capped Alps rise from vast, sunlit vineyards. This natural landscape, which has captivated people for all time, is still something to protect. It is especially important now, when people, exhausted by the modern age, are seeking their roots – the way back to themselves. The landscape of Valais is the kind of refuge they need. It is a pleasure not only to the eyes, but also to the spirit and body. The aura of the unique landscape of Valais inspires, soothes and invites artists to immortalise it in paintings.
The Valais exhibition embodies the artist Kristaps Priede’s memories of today’s landscape. It is important for the artist to be in nature every day. There, he can observe the processes and changes brought about by the interference of civilisation. As a result of global warming, Alpine glaciers are melting. It is a consequence that we can see today, and a warning nature is sending out to all of us. We are currently facing the fastest climate change ever to affect the planet. We have to understand what we are at risk of losing. Kristaps Priede paints Switzerland’s Alpine landscapes, as an act of preservation, in the knowledge that they may soon be beyond recognition.
The format of the paintings is a nod to the square-shaped photos on the social platform Instagram. To the artist, viewing photos on Instagram is like a metaphor for modern attitude, perception and thinking: the photos are swiped up and down, left and right, before being swept into oblivion. It might seem like a norm nowadays, but the artist believes that it cultivates an ungrateful attitude towards what we are viewing and towards the time given to us.
All paintings have a common element: mountains. The mountain is considered to be the reflection of the world and the model of the Universe. Its summit is where the road to heaven begins. The Romanian religious historian and philosopher Mircea Eliade claims that the mountain is not only the highest point, but also the “navel” of the world where all life begins. In myths, legends and tales, all cosmic events have to do with mountains. Being the closest to heaven, mountains are the perfect place for shrines where people can seek revelations. Their ever-searching spirits strive to be unrestricted and feel freedom. Watching mountains as their summits sink into the clouds and fade into the sky is a transcendental experience: the passage from the bodily to the spiritual. Kristaps Priede is also fascinated by Swiss landscape painters, such as Ferdinand Hodler, François-Louis David Bocion and Alfred Chavannes.