We have the great pleasure of supporting Latvian artist’s Kristiāna Dimitere latest exhibition “WOOF WOOF” at Alma Gallery!

“I loathe people who keep dogs. They are cowards who have not got the guts to bite people themselves.”
– August Strindberg
There is possibly some truth in Strindberg’s statement if we mean the type of people who get a dog as a stand-in for an alarm or a weapon. However, even the French expert cynic Michel Houellebecq could not resist dedicating one of his solo exhibition rooms at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris to his beloved corgi Clément. The pup was killed in cold blood by hostile Islamists in an attempt to intimidate the writer whom they perceived to be Islamophobic. Houellebecq’s exhibition Rester-Vivant mostly consisted of mockery and misanthropic commentary so characteristic of the writer. Nonetheless, the closing part – the room dedicated to Clément – was doused with artless sentimentality. How would one really remain unmoved looking at the photo of the cute and fluffy corgi who is himself gazing so bittersweetly at the Atlantic ocean and the dunes of France? Art critic Digby Warde-Aldam wrote in his review of the exhibition: “[…] for a half a second, I doubted its sincerity. And then I felt tears start to roll down my cheeks.” It isn’t, of course, as simple as that. For Houellebecq and his ex-wife, Clément was like a child. They loved the pup like their own child. This is what makes this collision, this murder of an innocent creature, comparable to a loss of a loved one.
In Kristiāna Dimitere’s case, dogs also somewhat play the roles of fellow humans. In her childhood, boxer Argo was her protector. And Brīna was a rescue that returned Kristiāna’s favour with immense devotion and trust. It seems that Strindberg must have missed something rather significant. With his forceful assertion, he seems to forget about the unconditional love and loyalty that can only be felt by a dog for its owner and vice versa. Another mistake of Strindberg’s: when it comes to Kristiāna Dimitere, she certainly does have the guts and ability to bite people herself, should the need arise.
Kristiāna Dimitere has created three monuments for dogs. They are all dead now, and these sculptures – the white, matt, monumental forms – are like the reflections of each of the dog’s souls. They have been brought to God by the snow-white bird, but an odd feeling persists that these dogs are not dead at all. The sculptures capture them in a sort of intermediate state. The figures are static and yet incredibly active. The eccentric expressions and fluid shapes of their bodies contribute to a sensation that what we are looking at are living units. However, it is also clear that we are beholding ghosts.
Being surrounded by beautiful things throughout her childhood, Kristiāna Dimitere has turned to equally beautiful escapism. I dare to call this kind of escapism beautiful because it possesses a level of stoicism. It is not intrusive or pretentious. On the one hand, Kristiāna Dimitere is like a noble and wonderful peacock surrounded by a monotonous quacking of ducks. On the other hand, she leads the lifestyle of a saint having given up a great deal of worldly waste. It is not misanthropy but a conscious choice to distance herself from people and society at large. One could say, a kind of self-isolation.
Kristiāna Dimitere does not concern herself with Art Nouveau-like form. Neither is she brutishly fixated on blatant decadence. Her works feature a completely autonomous set of themes based on the events and passions of her lived experience. In a way, Kristiāna Dimitere is classically postmodern. In her works, we can recognize traces of the Russian Silver Age, surrealism and hyperrealism as well as references to ancient religious motifs and storylines, and literary canon. One might assume this sounds like a cacophony of styles and impressions, but Kristiāna Dimitere expresses this myriad of inspirations in her own artistic language with great care and consistency. The exaggeration and deforming of the objects, thanks to the artist’s skilfulness, appear completely organic.
Quite often, the occasional self-proclaimed connoisseur of contemporary art might perceive the ideas of Kristiāna Dimitere as banal. Either way, the courage to be banal is her trump card. The shapes she creates are confident, and so is she when it comes to her message. Her brave gestures point to genuine mastery.
– Tomass Pārups

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