Colours. Barbara Gaile’s solo exhibition
“Colours”, the solo exhibition of Barbara Gaile, will be on view from 18 September to 28 November 2021 in the 4th Floor Exhibition Halls and the Cupola Hall of the main building of the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga (Jaņa Rozentāla laukums 1).

Barbara Gaile is well known to the Latvian viewer for her abstract paintings, whose radiation gives an inkling of suggestive nobility. Her art changes from work to work in mood, texture, rhythms, subtle nuanced gestures, until short, understandable words come into this new series of paintings Colours.


According to the artist, “the task of the project is to study and creatively develop a symbiosis of almost monochrome painting with the written word.” In the past too, Barbara Gaile rarely painted a word, but this time the words are not a poetic supplement, but a research instrument equivalent to colour.


The artist has said that “by applying different languages, within each colour I will try to create its autonomous expression, its embodiment to the maximum in a painting. At the same time, they are very subjective treatments of colours and words that are simultaneously both universal and generalized, which should open up the possibilities for many individual interpretations.”


Barbara Gaile found the rational basis for this ambitious series of works through extended familiarisation with the research on current and historical manifestations of colours. Colour has had great significance in terms of content in Latvian folklore and poetry too. For example, “White came the countrywoman...”, “My white mother…” or Rainis’s “The sun will dance again in three colours: Soon blue, soon green, soon red”.


The origins of Barbara Gaile’s idea for this series of paintings lie in the seemingly chaotic graffiti, scratchings and inscriptions of the urban environment, that is, in the non-commercial, non-advertising visual pluralism of cities. On the other hand, the poetic impulse was literally Arthur Rimbaud’s poem Vowels (Voyelles), in which he assigns a particular colour to each vowel – “A black, E white, I red, U green, O blue” (“A noir, E blanc, I rouge, U vert, O bleu”).


Having lived in Paris since 1997 and being an educated, intellectual person interested in art (including the art of words), Barbara Gaile is able to understand all the verses of the French poet genius down to the nuances. However, unlike the fiery Rimbaud, whose red is “spat blood, smile of beautiful lips in anger or in the raptures of penitence”, Barbara Gaile’s artwork series is a well-structured, laconic extension of the boundaries of painting. It is a conceptual, but at the same time a sensually material carrier of a coded message.


This body of artworks began with two grey paintings, Yes and No. They introduced the phonetic word games of the series, which appeared in separate paintings as the names of colours in different languages — bleugrigiopink or silber. With this exhibition, Barbara Gaile’s colour nuances have been joined by words with their semantic shades.Relief comes into the paintings with Braille, which in two works highlights black and white in terms of content.


Barbara Gaile’s series Colours is an indication of the potential possibilities of painting, when the heightened intensity of feelings and thoughts, talent, professionalism, and clarity about the task allow one to overcome decorativeness and create a miracle of art.



Barbara Gaile (1968) acquired her professional education at the Janis Rozentāls Riga School of Art (1987) and in the Painting Department of the Art Academy of Latvia (1995), graduating as the first student whose diploma work was a set of several abstract compositions. The artist has had many important solo exhibitions beginning in 1994. Of special note were her impressive solo exhibition Pearls in the White Hall of the Latvian National Museum of Art in 2010 and Heaven at Mark Rothko Art Centre in Daugavpils in 2016.


The artist has participated in many ambitious group exhibitions and won several prizes. For the annual exhibitions of the Soros Foundation’s Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art, State (1994) and Geo-Ģeo (1997), she created monumental outdoor painting projects, with the last being awarded the Grand Prix by an international jury.


Text by Helēna Demakova, art critic




Anna Pūtele, Curator of Education / Latvian National Museum of Art

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