Interview with Ilgonis Rinkis

The painting captures a moment that cannot be repeated. There is something melancholic, lively, and ephemeral at this moment. I think that makes the painting attractive.

Salaspils, Latvia
@ilgonis_rinkis | FB ilgonis.rinkis


Art has been in your life since elementary school. And when did drawing become a job and your main activity?

Teaching colors, compositions, and drawing enter my life in elementary school. There was an enthusiastic teacher and an artist. He created an exciting cabinet — with color, gammas, and contrasts. In early childhood, my mother was good at drawing. I wondered how she could winterize such a winding river, an apple, and a carrot with her hands and feet.
I worked in book publishing houses for many years — as a layout designer and artist. I had stopped painting.

I found my old wooden box of oil paints and a palette four years ago — I smelled linseed oil and turpentine. And the love for painting blossomed again in my soul. I slowly started painting again.
One of the French Impressionists said:

Painting is very jealous. Don’t let it down. After that, it is difficult to restore the relationship.

Near the apple. Oil on Canvas, 100 x 90 cm

When looking for your style and medium, were you inspired by famous artists? Or did you come to style on a whim?

Of course, I was influenced by and still admire the works of several painters. An artist cannot arise from nothing by himself – he lives under the influence of previous generations.

Latvian painters, whom I saw in museums and exhibitions, were of great importance. I still admire impressionists, renaissance, and neoclassical art. Lately, I have liked the works of the Italian painter – Giovanni Boldini. He was a French court painter. This brush fascinates – the speed and “dance” in the painting. Pronounced expression. The mood of the work is also influenced by other forms of art – for example, music. It is essential to me.

I have not specially created a style in the paintings. It arose during the work process. I am currently painting with oil paints. Sometimes I am not satisfied with the result of the work, so I remove the layer of paint applied the previous day with a painting spatula and start again. The painting takes quite a long time – the work of several months.

Please tell us more about the direction of your work. What inspires you, and what theme are you trying to discover through your art?

Looking at my paintings, some people say that I live in a slightly antique world. Because there are paintings where events take place in ancient times. But it is not a particular delay in the past.

I made it up in the painting. Sitting on a bench in the park, many people pass by – there is someone who lives and looks like a person from the future, someone who really lives here and now – in this reality, one thinks and rejoices in the past.

Now is such a depressive time – economic crises, pandemics, ecological changes, the war in Ukraine – it is unbelievable that there can still be a war after the previous wars. People don’t learn from the past. All severe events change a person’s value system. You have to see what is the main thing in life. I have painted portraits of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I like how she said, “I am not against war, but I am for peace”. It is precisely this in positivism that has the power of God. And that’s exactly what I want to show.

I find the current reality a little boring and heavy. I want to bring something new, or something good from the past, or from fantasy into it. There are specific people in the paintings – who carry their image in the painting.

What is it like to be an artist in Latvia – are people interested in art there? Has the situation changed during Covid?

In Latvia, people like painting. They are interested in it. Sometimes people argue sharply about what art and painting should be. Sometimes it can be incomprehensible. At the same time, it has its favorite painters, whose exhibitions are visited by many people. If they say – I don’t understand art, then you can ask yourself – do you understand life? However, one must be tolerant of diversity in art. You have to think – why and what the artist wanted to say.

During the flu pandemic, the situation was complicated. In the fall of 2020, I exhibited at the exhibition, but it had to be closed after only 2 weeks. And it was reopened in the spring. And the following autumn, this exhibition hall held only a virtual exhibition, fearing that the exhibited paintings could not be viewed. The big museums were also closed at that time. As the pandemic abated, the museum was allowed to contain a small, determined number of people.

You have been actively exhibiting and had several publications past years. Was it always like this, or did you work in the shadows? After all, quite a lot of artists prefer a closed lifestyle…

Yes, I try to participate and exhibit my paintings. As I already mentioned, there were many years when I did not paint at all.

Artists are different – some like an extroverted lifestyle, while others – withdraw and live in their own world of ideas in the workshop. I feel like I fall between these two types. I paint in solitude, I prefer it that way, even though there are several people at home, but I have to be alone for a few hours a day – in my studio.

Exhibitions are places where you can hang out with other artists and see their works. Of course, it is interesting to look at the works of others on social media on various websites. New technologies open the possibility for virtual exhibitions. But a physically exhibited painting cannot be replaced by a virtual one. It must be seen in reality.

Children by the river. Oil on Canvas, 110 x 90 cm

What advice would you give to an aspiring artist?

I cannot give such a general recipe or advice as in a cookbook. Everything is individual. It depends on talent, willingness to work, and living conditions where to realize your dream. These are not such simple questions. The material side is also important.

Work is of great importance. Not always inspired to do it. Therefore, professional skills and experience are helpful.

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