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Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art is a new art event in 2018 calendar. This Biennial is developed from the ground by a friend of mine, Agniya, who did an amazing job of bringing together exciting curator, artists and gathering solid art crowd.

During the Frieze Week a creative team of RIBOCA came to London to announce the concept of the Biennial – “Everything was forever, until was no more”. The concept reflects on ever-changing world around us, even things that seem so solid and fundamental.

Many historic buildings will come to live on 2nd of June to house artworks made not only by artists from Baltic states but also international creators. This is an amazing chance to introduce Riga’s cultural, historical and socio-political context and its surrounds.

So clear calendar for June and book your trip!

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Public Art in Ireland

Dublin 

We spent only one day in Dublin and the weather was more suitable for drinking whiskey than walking so we did not come across many art objects. We saw some sculptures here and there, but I left the city under impression that there are not many art decorations in the city.

 

Killarney

Killarney is a luxury tourist area and there are many sculptures and decorations in the area. Different size sculptures, wall sculptures, nice shops and pubs with decorations.

I came across great photography gallery with Irish landscapes, I loved the pictures and the how the canvases are without frames and the images continue on the sides.

Guinness-Storehouse, Dublin

Guinness one of the proudest products of Ireland. The museum of Guinness is located in the centre of Dublin. The museum is grand, it is 7 levels high, it is one of the tallest buildings in Dublin.

The museum is huge, it has many attractions like short films, artworks inspired by Guinness, marketing materials from archives, as my husband said: “it is a Disneyland for beer”. To see everything and enjoy a pint of dark beer you need about 2 hours in the museum. It is greatly guided, you have navigation on the floor so I do not think that guided tour is necessary.

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You start with learning about the process of ale making and then progress onto the second floor to learn about history of the brand. Then you have art floor with sculptures and video of Guinness commercial.

On the top level there is a Gravity Bar which opens a 360 degree view of the city. You get a free pint of guiness with you ticket and you can get it in any bar, but I recommend going to the top floor and enjoying the view with your beer.

I have tried Guinness before, I am a cider number one fan, but can occasionally enjoy ale. But this ale was out of this world fantastic! And it was so much better than any Guinness I’ve tried in the UK, the foam on top was thick and creamy.

The gift shop truly amazed me. It was unbelievably smart and organised. Once can buy everything there, from t-shirts to Christmas tree toys. Variety of products and designs was great, and all complimentary products arranged together and it was impossible to walk away from the gift shop empty handed. Genius.

Irish Whiskey Museum, Dublin

Passing by the Irish Whiskey Museum my travel companions convinced me to take a 1 hour tour. I am very glad they did. It is utterly wrong to visit Ireland and miss whiskey museum.

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The tour was brilliant, it comes down to the guide and he was very funny, he effortlessly narrated history of Irish whiskey and spoke in a very engaging manner. He was joking about England and Scotland in a caring way, much like formerly married couple is teasing each other.

To quote the host:

“Jameson’s is the third biggest seller in the world,  Jack Daniels – isn’t the best US whiskey, Johnnie Walker isn’t a drink it’s a challenge, Jameson’s not great, but surely better than the other two” and I have to agree

During tasting it was explained how to drink whiskey properly: ice kills the flavour and water is a better choice. But one should not add a lot of water, just 2 drops and it will open up the flavours. We tasted without water and with just two drops, it is amazing how much difference only two drops can make: it enhances the flavours and opens up smells. However, not every whiskey needs water, some sorts are much better neat.

Great decorations, very atmospheric, tour is definitely worth the money (17€ for three whiskey tasting and 20€ for 4 and a small souvenir glass with logo). On a rainy day, whiskey degustation was all we need to happily continue with our day.

Roma Aeterna

Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow exhibits Vatican art collection from Pinacotheca. The exhibition is on until 19th of February. As it happens in Moscow it is tricky to get tickets – demand is high for major cultural events.

The exhibition left good overall impression, I loved the set up and especially rich burgundy wall colour.

Rather original placing of description – at the raised plinth on the floor, but not smart. It’s impossible to see anything because of the crowd blocking the view. No doubt that without cable on the wall the whole experience is more authentic and paintings look more natural. But it is very difficult to identify who was the artist and what was the painting.

Brochures finished and Audio guide required deposit in form of documents or cash, not everyone carries it around so people missed on opportunity to learn about the exhibition. Combine that with no brochures and description written on the floor and you end up with much less educational exhibition that it could have been.

The exhibition consisted of 42 paintings spread over 3 halls replicating the Vatican halls.

Curatorial work left some questions… When you enter the second hall, Title “RAPHAEL” between two huge artworks. It was silly of me to assume that he title refers to these artworks;  it referred to tiny display. One paintings was Faith and the second one Charity. Both dated 1507.

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Donate Creti – the astronomical observations, 1711. The sun. The moon. Mercury. Venus. Mars, Jupiter. Saturn. The comet. Oil on canvas.

Ojas Art Gallery

Delhi is full of Art Galleries, old masters and contemporary ones. Our trip was packed with sightseeing so we did not have much time for commercial art galleries, however, we had a chance to visit one – Ojas Art Gallery. This is a contemporary art gallery which takes an innovative approach to Indian Art.

There is an indoor space (the main hall) and there is also a nice garden in front of a building. The main gallery building was closed the day we passed by so we only had a walk in the garden. Here are the sculptures that were displayed.

 

 

National Museum in Delhi

I am very excited to share my museum visits in India. We travelled to Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Aurangabad and Mumbai and visited many fascinating places.

There are some old parts of the building without any aircondlting, with outdated displays and dusty corners and there are also some renovated parts with modern displays. This museum needs to be repaired a bit, but in India it is not exactly a priority.

 

The relief of this elements of walls and decorations is just mind blowing. It is hard to believe that some of these objects are dated back to 2nd century B.C. Stone-carving is a very technical and elegant craft which takes a lot of patience. You can spend hours just looking at tiny figures that tell you a story.

It is a National Museum so different forms of art are displayed in the museum. These flat art miniature paintings grab your attention. Gold is a common addition to these paintings, it is added in a very delicate, tasteful and elegant manner.

There are many different objects displayed in the museum that walk you through Indian culture and history: games that people used to play, gods that they used to worship, thrones from former leaders…

This museum is definitely the place to go if you are into Indian culture. Your experience might be spoilt a bit by appearance or lack of air conditioning (especially in summer, when it is boiling hot), but if you look passed it then you will see beautiful unique art objects!

Reykjavik Public Art

During winter holidays I had the most amazing winter trip to Iceland. We started off with Reykjavik and then travelled abound – visited The Golden Circle tourist spots, explored Southern Iceland around Vik, visited the biggest glacier in Iceland, the second biggest glacier in Icelands, the third.. You got it, layers of ice, I mean, it is in the name. And finally we returned back to the capital with a stop Borgarnes. The nature was nothing like I have ever seen before. In some parts surrounding were so unusual, as I  am imagining walking on Mars would be. It was very tricky to see Northern Lights due to constantly changing weather: sunshine, rain, hail and snow in random order changing every 5-10 minutes.

Art-wise, Reykjavik is filled with sculptures and street art. It is a small city but you have a great variety of art decorating the streets. From classical sculptures to avant-garde , in variety of sizes.

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Even the airport has small decorative touches which made it very cosy.

Outside Reykjavik sculptures appear randomly. Some small villages so not have anything at all, but in the middle of nowhere you bump into sculpture. For example at the oldest lighthouse in Iceland, on the west from Reykjavik we unexpectedly saw this penguin sculpture. There was nothing in miles from that lighthouse and that penguin.

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This sculpture of two men is placed by Geysir park, which is a part of Golden Circle.

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Art is not the first thing that comes to your mind when talking about Iceland, but it definitely adds to the environment and culture!

Ivan Aivazovsky

Lately Moscow rocks with temporary exhibitions. Last winter it was Serov’s exhibition that has been extended twice due to high demand. This year it is Russian seascape painter, probably one of the best known Russian painters in the world, – Ivan Aivazovsky. His canvases are selling for hundreds of thousands by leading auction houses Christies and Sotheby’s.

Large space, dimmed light and neutral walls perfectly accommodate artworks. Large Baroque style frames add significance to the paintings and perfectly complement the colours. Pallet used for Aivazovsky paintings varies: some seascapes are captured at nighttime, some during bright day.

On the Shores of the Caucasus – 1885. Sublime. When you looking at this painting you are truly consumed by it. You can feel the power of nature and how it is greater than humankind. Although it depicts the crash of the ship, highlights on the painting give some hope and you feel like people can still escape.

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“A wave” 1889 Huge painting and not enough space in front to fully see it. However, it might be a curatorial idea – when you are standing so close you are boldly faced with the ocean and you are on the painting. Artist was particularly proud of this painting as he later said that it reflected all the years of his artistic experience.

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Public Art in Munich

Oktoberfest is a massive attraction and people are travelling from all over the world to try delicious beer and become a part of national celebration. I was very busy drinking beer but on my way from the hotel to the Oktoberfest park with the pavilions I came across different sculptures.

I noticed many bronze animal sculptures and they had some body parts shinier than others, I assume that it’s because people are rubbing them for luck.

Many beautiful fountains are decorated with sculptures.

One of the best places to find public art in Munich is the subway. Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to check it out myself but I heard many positive reviews. In Munich subway stations are the platforms for collaboration of government with artists, architects and designers. Since 1980s it was the place for artistic expression of contemporary creators. The best lines to explore are U1 and U2.

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Next time I am in Munich I will definitely spend less time on beer and more time on exploring the artistic side of the city.