Intervista with Kristine Kvitka
Born in Riga in 1983, she currently lives and works between Tricase (LE) and Latvia. She attended the Latvian Academy of Fine Arts (2003 – 2010), specializing in Painting, and in 2006 and 2008, she also studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Lecce, Italy. She has had solo exhibitions, including two in Italy, and has participated in various artistic events such as group exhibitions, international plein airs, art festivals, and symposiums in different European countries. Her artworks are held in many private collections in various countries, including Latvia, Italy, Austria, Australia, Iceland, Germany, the United Kingdom, and more.
“Lake in the Woods. Memories of Childhood” is the work that took you to the finals in the 10th edition for COMEL Award and earned you a special mention from the jury. How did the idea of the work and the idea of participating in the COMEL Award come from?
The idea of participating in the COMEL Award came from the fact that the metal sheets I often use in painting are made of aluminium. Following that, the idea of the work itself was also born. The forest landscape is one of my favourite themes. Then, in the winter forest, rich in lines and rhythms but can become almost monochromatic, I also thought of including a lake in which the light from the sky is reflected.
In this work, the themes of memory, the happy past, of childhood memories merge with the luster of aluminium, almost symbolizing the joy that resurfaces when thinking about specific episodes in the past. How important is the theme of remembrance to you? What does it mean to you to immortalize a moment from your past in a painting?
I painted a landscape that surrounded me throughout my life in Latvia. By painting forests, I can return to my roots and remember again the happy and carefree time of childhood. I really appreciate the Nature of southern Italy, where I live now: brighter colours, crystal-clear sea water, and green flowers and leaves all year round, but I also constantly miss my homeland.
Nature plays a key role in your painting. You state, “I have always believed that there is no greater and at the same time simple source of inspiration than Nature: you can find everything in it; you just need to know how to look.” And what do you look for within Nature?
I look and learn. In Nature, I look not only for inspiration but also for answers to questions. For example, a sunset by the sea is beautiful to look at, whereas a Nordic forest in winter is dark, damp, full of mud, and doesn’t give all that aesthetic excitement. However, at least for me, it is more interesting to paint a picture of a grey forest. That way, I can show the beauty I see or how I see it.
You are of Latvian origin and live in Italy; how much have these two countries and their cultures influenced your way of making Art?
I don’t think the change of place has influenced my way of making Art that much. Actually, I don’t even have the answer to that question because I don’t know how my Art would be today if I had stayed living in Latvia. Certainly Italy made me add new subjects to my paintings. A couple of years ago I started painting en plain air again. It is an excellent way to work and enjoy Nature at the same time.
Lately, you have been experimenting with sculpture by modeling delightful clay figurines in which your favourite themes and a certain Nordic folklore are evident. How did the desire to experiment with languages other than painting come about?
The idea of creating clay sculptures had been on my mind for many years. Last year, I had a studio gallery open to the public that was the right place to make my sculptural projects. I had many ideas and was curious about what I could create with clay since I am a painter. I especially enjoyed creating portraits using two types of clay: white and red.
Ficofoglie invernali, 2024
In your works, in your use of colour, in your choice of subjects, there is an underlying serenity, perhaps due to the peace that the subjects and landscapes you portray convey to you or your passion for painting. What does painting mean to you?
I am a painter, so painting for me is a way of life, a lifestyle. It’s not just working a few hours a day; it’s a way of thinking, seeing, and understanding things. Sometimes I even think I’m overdoing it because now I can’t look at a landscape without thinking about how I would paint it. Fortunately, I have three children who pull me out of the clouds.