At the exhibition enfant perdu VS enfant terrible, Ivars Gravlejs emphasizes some of the artistic principles typical for the artist Avdey Ter-Oganyan – the main subject of Gravlejs’s dissertation research. Gravlejs collaborated with the Russian artist on several exhibition projects. For example, he curated Ter-Oganyans retrospective exhibition V prdeli (Fucked); Tranzitdisplay, 2014). They are also connected through their personal and artistic approach to work characterized by non-conformist and provocative actions in the form of subversion, recession, (self)irony, and resistance to the authorities. In the context of their national mentality identification, the Czechs are said to be “laughing beasts.” However, this Latvian artist can disturb even some of the Czech citizens.
Gravlejs uses mainly new media in his work and often undermines the supposed seriousness and triviality of daily life experiences (school, shopping, advertising photography, media, Internet and social media identities, etc.) with his subversive or disparaging interventions. The author has been using conceptual and performative approach in the medium of photography since his childhood and adolescence. In Early Works, his juvenile work, he dealt mainly with destructive and vulgar motifs, albeit referring to common “boyish pranks”. These motifs can be very humorous when interpreted properly, but also critical of some social contexts at the same time. At the exhibition enfant perdu VS enfant terrible, Gravlejs presents a video in which he uses a video collage to present the principles of his previous work concerning provocative and irritating behaviour. A performance referring to peep shows that can be also a hard pill to swallow for viewers is an integral part of the exhibition project. The exhibition is accessible even during the pandemic measures; it communicates with the viewer in public space and allows Gravlejs’s self-ironic and grotesque anecdotes to be presented in the form of dialogues and contrasts.
Ivars Gravlejs (1979, Riga) completed his master’s degree at the Department of Photography at FAMU in 2007 and is currently completing his doctoral studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague his dissertation The Clown Story under the supervision of Vladimír Skrepl. He is the head of the photography studio at the Faculty of Fine Arts (FAVU) in Brno which primarily provides motivation and guidance for creative and not necessarily formal artistic activities of the students. In recent years, several Gravlejs’s solo exhibitions have been organized: Pat and Mat: a selection of works in the Blansko City Gallery (2019), Outlet in Mukusalas Makslas salon (2018, Riga), Shopping Poetry in Careva contemporary (Riga, 2018), and Klusā daba at MĀKSLAI VAJAG TELPU (Riga, 2017); he has also participated in several group exhibitions: in Meetfactory (Prague, 2019), Nevan Contempo (Prague, 2019), and Tate Modern (London, 2016). His work was represented at the Photo London 2019 festival at Somerset House, and in 2015 a monograph of Ivars’s Early works was published by Mack (London).