Le fragole del Baltico, translating to “Baltic strawberries”, is meant to be ironic. The poetic title addresses the “soft-focused, vaguely exotic perception in Southern Europe of the Baltic countries as cold lands, under whose grey skies a fruit such as a strawberry could never grow”. The exhibition, that ran from June 9 to July 19, was intended to complement the now-cancelled Latvian pavilion at EXPO 2015 and has survived as a testament to durability of the Baltic region—for summer fruits and art alike.
Organized by kim? Contemporary Art Centre in Riga in collaboration with Careof in Milan and curated by Simone Menegoi and Zane Onckule, the exhibition presents a selection of ten Latvian artists, most of whom were born around 1980 and are exhibiting in Italy for the first time. The works featured illustrate a range of styles and mediums—Ieva Epnere exhibits a series of photographers depicting Latvian students bringing flowers to their teachers on September 1, a ceremony originated in Soviet times. The paintings and plaster miniatures of Inga Meldere work like visual short stories, and Kaspars Groševs‘ knitted tracksuit gives a taste of decoration. Krišs Salmanis shows witty, poetic videos, Ieva Rubeze creates a video compilation of Latvian “TV healers” of the 90s, and Jānis Avotiņš creates anonymous postcard drawings of mysterious locations. Together with Ēriks Apaļais’ sparse, meditative paintings, Ieva Kraule‘s fairy tale feast, Daria Melnikova‘s literal take on measurements and (de)composition and Ola Vasiljeva’s pun-filled objects, Le fragole del Baltico gives a taste of the peculiar flavour of the Latvian art fields. **
Exhibition photos, top right.