The 2nd Purvītis Prize for achievements in visual arts in Latvia was awarded on 18 February 2011 to Kristaps Ģelzis. Nominated for the 2011 Purvītis Prize three times in 2009–2010, Ģelzis was eventually shortlisted by the Panel of Experts for his ‘Varbūt’ (‘Maybe’) exhibition at the Māksla XO Gallery in 2009 (15.10 – 03.11.2009).
“In his ‘Varbūt’ (‘Maybe’) exhibition Kristaps Ģelzis confirms the importance of water colour in an era in which has deemed it an anachronism. He demonstrates not only a perfect mastery of the technique, but also upsets the thinking of the viewer with the uncertainty of the message, so typical of the era. He uses the synchronization of framing to create the image. The conditionality of the water colour along with the fragmentation of the image in the exhibition gives rise to a slightly paranoid feeling. It’s like our fixation with the environment which is full of surveillance cameras and images taken by mobile telephones: a scattered and fragmented kind of reality, which lends itself to ever more interpretations, but in the end doesn’t take us anywhere.” Ieva Kulakova
Kristaps Ģelzis was born in 1962 in Riga. He is a graduate from the Department of Graphics of the Latvian Academy of Art (1986). With other conceptual art pioneers of his generation, he has been actively involved in Latvian contemporary art processes since the mid 1980s. Since 1997, he holds the post of Assistant Professor at the Department of Visual Communication and Graphics of the Latvian Academy of Art. He is also a member of the Latvian Union of Artists. The artist has participated in many significant international projects.
Kristaps Gelzis is one of the most unique and original contemporary artists in Latvia. His works can be found in the collections of Helsinki’s KIASMA Contemporary Art Museum, the Latvian National Museum of Art and the Latvian Artists Union, as well as in private collections. The idea at the core of Kristaps Gelzis’ art is implemented in the most appropriate material – on planes, spatially or plastically, using all the technology and media now available. He is sensitive to the local environment’s symbolic elements, which are then masterfully interpreted in his works, and has the courage to be openly ironic about the current political and social occurrences.
In 2011, Kristaps Ģelzis represented Latvia at the 54th International Art Exhibition of Venice Biennale.