GAMeC presents Atem, Lehm “Fiato, Argilla”, the first solo exhibition in an Italian museum by Daiga Grantina (Saldus, 1985) curated by Sara Fumagalli and Valentina Gervasoni.

For the occasion the artist has conceived a new body of work with a site-specific spatial concept in the museum’s project room, Spazio Zero. The consistency, composition, adaptability, color, and texture of the materials are offered to the viewer as plastic entities that stimulate our perceptual system.

The artist asks “If and how can we delineate color?” as she puts together the exhibition in Bergamo around both this question and her observations on color and its dynamic relationship with matter and light. In Grantina’s work color is fluid and vibrant, neither stable nor static. The experience is not investigated in the symbolic sphere but in its corporeal and mental dimension.

The exhibition at the GAMeC represents a major evolution in Grantina’s poetics, a decisive and coherent change of palette and pace compared to the large-scale environmental installations that have characterized her work to date. She is now faced with a desire for containment, vibration, and definition in which geometry and drawing become the grammar of her “gestures”—as the artist defines her sculptural works—translating the perception of the heterogeneous materials comprising her sculptures into an ethereal dimension.

The space is characterized by a mural that surrounds and delineates the space. A line made up of squared units, drawn or filled with iridescent blue and green feathers or of painted wood. The mural forms an open-ended structure with its potentially infinite combinations, inducing an ongoing and bi-directional exchange between scale and proximity. The mural seems to breathe, constraining and distending the grounding of space.

When viewed as a whole, the line marks out a space of resonance where the line itself serves as a hinging point, and its modular squares of different colors, materials, and consistency—organized as a score—can vibrate, absorbing and releasing different frequencies of color and light. The sculptural space is built from a sense of crystallization through the color.

At a closer distance a common frequency of the fibers emerges in the form of a system of lines starting from the mural as a whole to the details of the elements it is made of. The artist aspires to give shape to the sensing of color.

Atem, Lehm “Fiato, Argilla” also looks back at Grantina’s previous work, Around Green (2020) or What Eats Around Itself (For Rilke) (2019), while placing new accents on the spatial relationships of fullness and emptiness and optical properties such as iridescence. The biomorphic corporeity of Around Green interferes with the geometric form of the square, which only exists in nature in salt crystals.

The title of the exhibition Fiato, Argilla (“Breath, Clay”) is a translation from German “Atem, Lehm,” a line from In der Luft, da bleibt deine Wurzel (“In the air, there your root remains”) by Paul Celan, for whom the breath is inscribed in matter and natural forms. For Daiga Grantina too, the “breath”, that crosses space and moving matter (“clay”), making it vibrate until its contours blur, is rooted in the physical experience that unites both the perceiver and the perceived.

Thus, the “salt-score”—as the artist defines it—in Spazio Zero becomes a concrete and aerial space, vital and suspended, as if holding together two dimensions, the terrestrial and the cosmic, in the same way that for Celan, breath defines a two-fold bond between the transcendent and the immanent.

The exhibition is part of a series of initiatives staged with the support of the Club GAMeC—the association of friends of the museum which, since 2005, has supported the activities of the Gallery, aimed at promoting contemporary artistic research in all its forms.

Daiga Grantina (Saldus, Latvia, 1985) lives and works in Paris.
She studied at the University of Fine Arts Hamburg (HFBK) and the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.

Her recent solo shows include What Eats Around Itself  at the New Museum (New York, 2020); Saules Suns, Latvian Pavilion, 58th Venice Biennale (Venice, 2019); Toll at the Palais du Tokyo (Paris, 2018); Pillar Sliding off Coat-ee, Kunstverein in Hamburg (Hamburg, 2017); KU B Billboards, Kunsthaus Bregenz (Bregenz, 2016); Heap-Core…, Kim? Contemporary Art Center (Riga, 2016).

Grantina has also taken part in numerous group shows, including Crazy, Cruel and Full of Love, curated by Kathleen Buhler at the Kunstmuseum Bern (Berne, 2020); Words at an Exhibition, Busan Biennal, Yeongdo Museum of Contemporary Art (Busan, 2020); GIVE UP THE GHOST, Baltic Triennal 13, curated by Vincent Honoré, Contemporary Art Center (Vilnius, 2018); CHILDHOOD Another banana day for the dream-fish, curated by Sandra Adam-Couralet and Yoann Gourmel at the Palais de Tokyo (Paris, 2018); Solar Bodies, curated by Ø at the Musée d’Orsay (Paris, 2018); Biotopia, curated by Sabine Rusterholz Petko at the Kunsthalle Mainz (Mainz, 2017); Adhesive Products, curated by Praxes at the Bergen Kunsthall (Bergen, 2016).

Her works are to be found in the permanent collections of international institutions such as the Kunstmuseum Bern; Tate London; LNMM Latvian National Art Museum, Riga; CNAP Centre National Art Plastique, Pantin (France); and FRAC Nord-Pas de Calais, Dunkirk (France).