On 18 February 2011 Kristaps Gelzis was awarded the Purvitis Prize—the most significant visual arts award in Latvia.
The exhibition of the works by Purvitis Prize candidates will be on view at the Arsenals (Old Town, Tor?a Street 1) Exhibition Hall of the Latvian National Art Museum until 10 April 2011. The exhibition includes striking works in a variety of techniques: painting, photography, installation, and video art created in 2009 and 2010 by eight artists. The eight candidates—Ilmars Blumbergs, Kristine Kursisa, Kristaps Gelzis, Imants Lancmanis, Kaspars Podnieks, Martins Ratniks, Inta Ruka, Kriss Salmanis—were selected by panel of experts. The curator of the exhibition is Daiga Rudzate.
The Prize was named after Vilhelms Purvitis (1872–1945), a Latvian old master, who was an outstanding artist and art teacher of his era, enjoying recognition not only in Latvia but also internationally. The Prize is awarded every two years to an individual artist or a group of artists representing the Latvian art with an outstanding work, which is deemed deeply connected to the developments of the era and forming a bridge between contemporary life, spiritual ideals, and absolute values. The Prize is the most prestigious and the most substantial art award in Latvia, comprising EUR 28 500.
The members of the Purvitis Prize 2011 international jury were: Mara Lace, Director of the Latvian National Museum of Art; Janis Zuzans, Chairman of the Board of SIA Alfor, the Patron of the Museum; Sarmite Elerte, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Latvia; Dr. hab. Art Eduards Klavins, art historian, Professor of the Latvian Academy of Art; Helena Demakova, art theoretician and curator; Inga Steimane, art historian and curator; Andris Klavins, art collector; Anda Rottenberg, art historian, critic and curator (Poland); Dr. Dmitry Ozerkov, Curator of the Contemporary Art Department and Project Hermitage 20/21 at the State Hermitage (Russia); Dr. Lolita Jablonskiene, art historian, Chief Curator of the Lithuanian National Gallery of Art (Lithuania).
The Purvitis Prize competition is organized by the Latvian National Museum of Art in cooperation with SIA Alfor, Patron of the Museum. INDIE culture project agency and P.R.A.E. public relations agency also participate in bringing forth the Purvitis Prize.
Kristaps Gelzis (1962) is one of the most unique and original contemporary artists in Latvia. His works can be found in the collections of Helsinki's KIASMA Contemporary Art Museum, the Latvian National Museum of Art and the Latvian Artists Union, as well as in private collections. The idea at the core of Kristaps Gelzis's art is implemented in the most appropriate material—on planes, spatially or plastically, using all the technology and media now available. He is sensitive to the local environment's symbolic elements, which are then masterfully interpreted in his works, and has the courage to be openly ironic about the current political and social occurrences. This year Gelzis will represent Latvia at the 54th International Art Exhibition of Venice Biennale.