Vija Celmins is an artist whose works ask and surely compel the viewer to slow down, breath in and absorb her brilliance and subtlety of technique and style. The photographic feel and look she masters beg to be studied unlike any other artist working today. She is not loud, bold or extravagant but the genuine powers of her pieces are transformative. Look at these works of her hand’s precision, intricacy and exacting measure. She delivers her grace of being for our understanding and joy.
“There aren't really rules for painting, but there’s certain facts and fictions about painting. Part of what I do is document another surface and sort of translate it. They’re like translations, and then part of it is fiction, which is invention.”
The Latvian born Celmins (now living in the United States) has authored several books including The Painting of Modern Life and The Stars; a book about her long term obsession with viewing the cosmos. She likes to think of her paintings as things that she builds rather than paints. Celmins starts with the construction and preparation of her canvas and sees every step as integral to the finished piece. She also paints as many as nine layers of paint; as many as deemed necessary to achieve her desired result.
“Somehow the image begins to have a sort of memory in it, even if you can't see it. It can build up a dense feeling toward the end, and then it makes me happier.”
The spider webs, stars and space configurations, still life’s and ocean surfaces are most often mono-chromes likened to black and white photos. Vija uses photographs extensively as reference and she also paints familiar objects from her studio and home. She uses color sparingly as if to not distract the viewer from a mental connection of purpose. Her works displayed in museums, sought by collectors and viewed by the millions are quiet treasures to behold.