View of “Daiga Grantiņa,” 2022. Photo: Otto Strazds.

View of “Daiga Grantiņa,” 2022. Photo: Otto Strazds.

Daiga Grantiņa

Daiga Grantiņa’s works always give visceral pleasure. This was truer than ever in her recent show “Lauka telpa” (Field Space), curated by Zane Onckule at the historic Art Museum Riga Bourse. For her largest solo exhibition to date in her native Latvia, the Paris-based artist showed twelve large sculptures made over the past four years. Their elegance and scale—as well as their combination of mundane and unusual materials, textures, and colors—were immediately appealing. Her works are both present and withdrawn: They slip away from any attempt to pin them to meaning or reference. The sculpture that lent the show its title, dated 2019–22, is made of wood panels, fabric, ink, and silicone, and was accompanied by a light projection. As its deep-brown wood panels almost disappeared into the darkness and the beam on the black marble floor beside it produced an amorphous shadow, Field Space and its elusive presence seemed to offer a key to the whole show. This was a space in which we encountered shadows of thoughts, structures to grip color, something like an architecture of the unconscious.

Entering the dim, extravagantly ornamented hall with its walls of pinkish marble, arched ceiling, and lines of gray columns, one was greeted by Saules Suns (red), 2019, vertically shooting toward the ceiling and then arching downward. The intensity of its titular hue was striking, as was the work’s trunk-like structure, which reached out like a large tentacle. Smaller feelers were all around, translucent and soft on the edges of rigid wood panels in Queen, 2022. The wood structure stood firmly on the floor like an oversize corset decorated with a couple of thin lines of peacock feathers on each side. Tiny flat antennae graced the textile of the bright-orange Sarrasvati, 2020, which hung over the exhibition hall like a wing or a part of a roof, shielding the viewer in its warm color. Held together by a few wood shards, the work radiated ephemerality and the potential to shape-shift. Some of the sculptures, such as Swallows and Bride2, both 2022, resembled origami constructions one makes as a child: the paper fortune-teller sometimes called a cootie catcher and known in the Baltics as the “day night” game for its brightly colored exterior and dark interior. These seemingly rigid geometrical shapes were containers for color—hot orange, yellow, ink black—but each was softened by pleats of tissues or silicone, bringing fleshiness to structure. They also drew the room itself into their fold, as space itself became an invisible component that the sculptures encompassed.

Distinct from the other, more minimal works in the exhibition, Cloud Woman, 2022, unwound on a mirror pedestal like a baroque dress, feeling at home with the marble that surrounded it. Light pink and beige tulle fabric, resembling fleshy tissue and growing on the foam shell of the sculptural body, evokes vulnerability: The form seems too soft to be open like that. The exhibition’s sensual experience was accentuated by Polish composer Raphael Rogin´ski’s meditative guitar piece, which melded evocatively with Grantiņa’s sculptures. The alluring vibration of each work in the show was powerful enough to swallow the viewer and the space around them.