What Sold at Art Basel in Hong Kong
Janis Avotins paints dark, ghostly, photorealistic images sourced from forgotten antique photographs and Soviet-era media. Rather than directly copy the subjects—female figures, patriarchal heads and busts, or hands protruding from a shirt sleeve—he reduces them to hazy, isolated forms with an ephemeral quality. Critic Gabriel Coxhead once noted the pervading sense “of images being demarcated by the surrounding blackness, but also threatened by it, as if continually on the brink of being subsumed by its hungry amorphousness.” Avotins achieves his signature grainy, foggy effect by covering the lint-specked canvas with a thin imprimatura wash of dark oil paint. He leaves some areas of the canvas unshaded so the subjects appear luminous, or even solarized, mimicking the effects of the photographic printing processes used in his source material.
Latvian, b. 1981, Riga, Latvia, based in Riga, Latvia