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Latvian National Museum of Art opens exhibition of works by Felicita Pauļuka
Felicita Pauļuka (1925–2014) is one of the most outstanding painters of portraits and nudes in Latvian art.

RIGA.- The exhibition Felicita Pauļuka (1925–2014). Pastels and Drawings is on show at the 4th Floor Exhibition Hall of the main building of the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga. The show of Felicita Pauļuka’s works opens the new cycle of museum exhibitions The Generation, dedicated to the young of the 1950s–60s.

Felicita Pauļuka (1925–2014) is one of the most outstanding painters of portraits and nudes in Latvian art. In 1940, the fifteen-year-old Felicita Jānke enrolled into the Art Academy of Latvia. It was a rather rare occurrence for the academy – to accept a student without a secondary school diploma, but the matriculation commission was impressed by the girl’s superb drawing skills. Nevertheless, the studies had to be interrupted for four years. In 1943, Felicita married painter Jānis Pauļuks (1906–1984). In 1944, she resumed her studies, at the same time working as an illustrator and cartoonist at the Cīņa (Struggle) newspaper. In 1949, she graduated with distinction from Ģederts Eliass’ Workshop of Easel Painting at the Art Academy of Latvia.

In the 1950s and 60s, artists whom the authorities considered promising had the opportunity to go on creative trips not only in Latvia, but also in the broad expanses of the Soviet Union, and Felicita Pauļuka took up the offer. These travels resulted in cycles of charcoal and sanguine drawings (Latvian Fishermen, Georgian Peasants, Miners of Donbas, Saaremaa Fishermen and others), which testified to the artist’s virtuoso skill in these techniques and also her ability to reveal the nature of the character of the models.

Since the 60s, Felicita Pauļuka devoted herself to pastel, and for the entire life she held that “it requires work with the heart’s blood. Only by mastering the specific expressive potential of pastel, it is possible to find new values.” The artist’s style changed over time: sometimes it was laconic and harsh, at others it was tender and caressing, at times lively and passionate, while on occasion it was cold and distanced.

“The work begins with the choice of the model. I am very subjective. (..) you cannot force respect upon yourself – it either exists or not. By concentrating on the model’s essence one cannot become monotonous. Each model sets a new task, compositional structure, tonal solution, changes in the use of materials. The model’s mental state determines the choice of either bright or reserved harmonies,” recounted Felicita Pauļuka.

At the beginning of the 1960s, the painter begun a series of portraits of Latvian cultural figures, which she continued in the following years. The painter depicted artists, writers and actors in an objective and recognisable manner, at the same time preserving her own viewpoint in the characterisation of the sitters.

Felicita Pauļuka’s paintings of nudes are manifold and expressive, occupying a central place in the master’s oeuvre. “The human body reveals not only the outer, but also the deepest essence, just like the face. Hands and feet also have their life story. Therefore, the nude for me is an extended portrait in which I involve the entire body and express the essence of the person,” the artist explained. This deeply intimate and delicate genre reveals the author’s worldview and the full extent of her refined technique. Over time, cycles of nude paintings of a single model formed in Felicita Pauļuka’s oeuvre, and each of them contains new discoveries, nuances of character and mood.

The exhibition consists mainly of works from the collection of the Latvian National Museum of Art.

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