The Purvītis Prize is the most prestigious and the most substantial visual art award in Latvia. Founded in January 2008, the Purvītis Prize was launched to amass regular and systematic information about the latest visual arts events in Latvia, promote development of new projects and original ideas, acknowledge the best achievements in Latvian professional visual arts and popularise the success of Latvian artists both in Latvia and abroad.
Named after Vilhelms Purvītis – one of the most well known Latvian artists, pioneer of the national landscape painting and the founder of the Art Academy of Latvia, the first Purvītis Prize was awarded on February 2009 to Katrīna Neiburga. The prize is a cooperation between the Latvian National Museum of Art and it’s patron SIA Alfor company. The Prize is awarded once in every two years to an artist or a group of artists representing Latvia with an outstanding work, which is deemed to be deeply connected to the developments of the era and forming a bridge between contemporary life, spiritual ideals and intrinsic values. The author rated highest by a panel of experts and a special international jury is selected as the winner. The Prize is the most prestigious and the most substantial art award in Latvia, comprising 28 500 EUR pre- tax.
After Neiburga from dozens of candidates over these ten years, the prize has went to Kristaps Ģelzis, Andris Eglītis, Miķelis Fišers and a group of artists consisting of Krišs Salmanis, Anna Salmane and Kristaps Pētersons. Ieva Epnere was chosen as the winner from seven other shortlisted nominees – Ēriks Apaļais, Romāns Korovins, Kristaps Epners, Gints Gabrāns, Paulis Liepa, Rasa Šmite and Raitis Šmits, and text group Orbīta by this year’s panel of jury – Director of the LNMA Māra Lāce (LV), Head of SIA Alfor Jānis Zuzāns (LV), Gregor Muir (UK), Director of Collection, International Art, at Tate, owner and director of Galerie Krinzinger Ursula Krinzinger (Austria), art collector Galila Barzilai-Hollander (Belgium), art curator, theoretician and critic Sergey Khachaturov (Russia), and Latvian-born artist and theoretician Imants Tillers (Australia).
“Over the course of 2017 and 2018, the experts have viewed more than 130 exhibitions. 83 of them were discussed at the regular quarterly nomination meetings. Out of these 83 exhibitions, 20 art events over the two-year period were nominated for the chance to make it into the short-list of the 2019 edition of the Purvītis Prize,” Astrīda Rogule, head of the expert working group, explains. “It was not an easy process to take the quarterly decision on nominees and decide on the final eight nominees for the Purvītis Prize. We always had lengthy and heated discussions, but it is important to note that the experts all shared a professional attitude towards their duties, the desire to hear others out, analyse, present arguments and accept the majority choice by a vote.”
ĒRIKS APAĻAIS or his series of paintings Diaries from Earth (2014–2018) exhibited at Sporta iela 2 Quarter in the framework of the Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art (02.06.–28.10.2018).
IEVA EPNERE for her solo exhibition Sea of Living Memories at kim? Contemporary Art Centre (08.12.2016–15.01.2017).
ROMĀNS KOROVINS for his solo exhibition Satori of Master Wu and Master Lee in the Creative Studio of the ARSENĀLS Exhibition Hall of the Latvian National Museum of Art (23.03.–13.05.2018).
RASA ŠMITE and RAITIS ŠMITS for exhibition Fluctuations of Microworlds at the RIXC Centre for New Media Culture (09.09.–28.10.2017).
KRISTAPS EPNERS for artwork Forget Me Not at the Residence of Kristaps Morbergs in the framework of the Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art (02.06.– 28.10.2018).
GINTS GABRĀNS for his augmented reality project SAN as implemented in 2017 and 2018.
PAULIS LIEPA for exhibition The Cabinet of Beautiful Arts at the Mūkusala Art Salon (23.03.–06.05.2017).
TEXT GROUP ORBITA (Artūrs Punte, Vladimir Svetlov, Sergey Timofeyev and Alexander Zapol) for exhibition Where Do Poems Come From? at the floating art gallery Noass (16.05.–14.07.2018).