Although the first recognized portraits can be traced back to antiquity, portrait painting arrived at its pinnacle in the Renaissance. Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, Dürer’s self-portrait or Holbein’s Erasmus of Rotterdam have long been beacons of art history, and there is a palpable influence of this 15th and 16th century painting in the work of Latvian painter Normund Brasliņš, born in 1962. Akin to centuries prior, the oil paintings on display – all created after 2010 – focus on people in all their magnificent glory. Brasliņš realizes a remarkable moment of tranquility. The works take on a special relevance in a hurried, stimulus-soaked society and become an unreachable aspiration – absent of distraction, free from the noise.
The symmetrically arranged Wine Party to the left shows this clearly: no background details disturb any of the five people, whose harmonious facial features, milky skin and slender forms allude to an ancient ideal of beauty reassumed during the Renaissance. They devote themselves solely to being together and enjoying latent existence detached from the space. Their graceful, manneristically overdrawn bodies rest completely within themselves and emote inner dialogue with one another. Gazes pose with contemplation, facial expressions and gestures enigmatic. Only the two outer figures break the aloofness and persuade us not to just return their gaze, but to become part of the action.