I’ll Embrace You and Keep You Warm

Solo Exhibition

25.10.2018. – 11.11.2018.

Siauliu Art Gallery, Lithuaia


On 25 October 2018, opening of the solo exhibition of artist Rasa Jansone, “I’ll Embrace You and Keep You Warm” will take place at Siauliai Art Gallery in Lithuania.The exhibition is organized in the framework of the 23rd International Contemporary Art and Fashion Festival “Virus” and, along with other festival events, will be open to public until 11 November 2018.

In Latvia, Rasa Jansone is known as a painter and author of emotionally saturated and psychologically fraught installations; she is also a columnist for “RÄ«gas Laiks” magazine and, in 2018, made her debut in curating, together with philosopher Jana Kukaine creating the exhibition “Wool and Silk. The New Erotic” in the Latvian Museum of Photography. Siauliai Art Gallery is the largest art gallery in Northern Lithuania and a cultural center of regional importance. The opening of Rasa Jansone’s first foreign solo exhibition on 25 October 2018 will also be the opening of the festival “Virus”.

In the 400 square meters of exhibition space within the two floors of Siauliai Art Gallery, Rasa Jansone will display her latest works, several of which have been developed especially for this exhibition. Title of the exhibition “I’ll Embrace You and Keep You Warm” is a promise of a humane act, a purposeful activity, an intention to care for and to help. But by observing the people who are performing such acts more carefully, by asking why and for whom are they doing it, we discover the many layers of human relationships and can conclude that caring, helping and goodness is not always the main motivation or result of such actions. So, how do human relationships come about, really? How much of our actions are truly our own choice? To what degree are we influenced by external conditions and circumstances? What is the impact of the behavioral codes inherited from our parents and grandparents, and what is the cost of breaking free from them?

The ground floor of the exhibition hall is dedicated to Rasa Jansone’s installations. One of them shares its name with the exhibition: “I’ll Embrace You and Keep You Warm” (2018) consists of several dozen waffle pans, displayed flat open. Although they sort of remind of bras, the impression of feminine eroticism or mother’s nursing breast is but a flash – the metallic material and the fact that these cast iron pans are capable of being heated up to 200 degrees Celsius rather makes one think of torture of the notorious “iron maiden”. Preparation of food is a life-sustaining action, but the unrelenting and never-ending necessity of it confines and torments. Installation “Ritual Place” (2018) on its turn plays with the semantics of another kitchen utensil – cutting board. Several groups of differently shaped cutting boards have been printed with images from the collection of the Latvian Museum of Photography, private archive of the author and orphan worksfound in antique shops. As a practical and daily used kitchen utensil, the cutting board may evoke feelings of familial comfort and safety, of delightful meals shared by the whole family – of something ancient fundamental. However, the realization that the board has been used to slice apart living flesh and the fragmented images from strangers’ lives makes one wonder – what is the price of these “fundamental” values? What is hidden behind the masks of “beautiful granny” and “strong grandpa”? The contrast between an apparent idyll and the unseen, but surmisable, plays out also in the series “Heaven’s Edge” (2018).

The top floor of the exhibition hall is dedicated to Rasa Jansone’s paintings. The exposition includes series of works made from 2014 to 2018: “Families”, “Exercise Machine. Self-portrait” and “All That Happiness”. Not only is the painting style and palette of Rasa Jansone expressive, the works are “explosive” in their contents as well – in her depictions of families and familial manifestations, the artist relishes the good and the beautiful, but with the same ease and warmth she approaches and paints what usually stays behind closed doors, under covers drawn over the head and pillows wet with tears. Openness about personal experience becomes the point of connection with other people, who may look fancy and smiling in glossy photographs, but step back into ramshackle reality just as they leave the salon. “Show your wound,” as Joseph Beuys once preached – because, according to him, that was the only way to heal.  

Senses and sensibilities (also sensuality), their gradation in these works allow to elevate them to the universal domain of emotions and feel their emotional impact. In her art, Rasa Jansone consistently develops themes related to female experience and gender issues, and is one of the few Latvian artists who does not avoid raising feminist questions in the visual art.

Exhibition features Rasa Jansone’s works loaned from the Latvian Museum of Photography. The exhibition has received financial support from the State Culture Capital Foundation in Latvia.