Phtoto: Ierva Makare, LETA

The Three-Part Large Format Art Object “The Large Vase” Is Now Complete

Installed under the auspices of the Boris and Ināra Teterev Foundation’s programme “Art in Public Space”, the second part of “The Large Vase”, a large-format object by artist and Art Academy of Latvia Professor Ojārs Pētersons, was unveiled on 26 September and is now on public view in the semi-circle alongside Akmens Bridge and AB Dam. Meanwhile, the third and final part of the work is comprised of a publication that will be available to the general public in all of Latvia’s libraries.

“The Large Vase” is divided into three parts, which together form a whole. The largest of these can be found outside the Castle of Light, while a further second of the work has now been installed. The exterior surface of the object is lined with a ceramic mosaic inscribed with Garlieb Merkel’s text; each of the ceramic tiles, of which there are over 14,000, is adorned with a letter. The first section of “The Large Vase” was erected in 2014.

Visitors to Latvia’s public libraries will be able to browse through a publication, which was conceived by the artist as an integral element of the work of art and contains the relevant excerpt of Merkel’s text. The publication, including the excerpt in question, has been published in English, French, German, Spanish and Russian.

Artist Ojārs Pētersons explains that, “These parts can be pieced together by anyone, infusing them with his or her own content". The source of inspiration that precipitated the creation of this art object was Garlieb Helwig Merkel’s book, “Vidzeme’s Ancient Times”, which is actually more a work of 18th century contemporary art than a historical document testifying about the Latvians of that day and age.

This is a work of art that invites eclectic interpretation. According to curator Helēna Demakova, "The granite inner of the vase refers to our latitude and rustic environment, whereas the fragment of Merkel’s text on the outside emphasises the formative influence of European culture and the experience of history, which are further accented by the vase’s form.”

In the spring of 2013, the foundation organised a competition “Riga Smiles” in which “The Large Vase” was among the projects to receive an award. In a decision ultimately ratified by architect Gunārs Birkerts, the NLL’s commission of art experts subsequently approved this work of art for installation outside the library.