Mythic Latvian Farmstead (God’s Garden). | Mītiskā
latviešu sēta (Dieva
Acrylic on masonite | Akrils uz mesonīta, 34.75 in x 45.5 in (82.26 cm x 115.57 cm), 1989.
In this piece, my father portrays a traditional Latvian farmstead inspired by the country’s agrarian heritage. He painted variations of this scene throughout his career. Drawn from ethnographic sources and historical photos, and his own recollections of Latvian landscapes, these images persisted in his work. The work juxtaposes symbolic elements of traditional Latvian culture with the vernacular architecture of Latvia's Baltic coast. The sacred oak tree and the golden apple tree are both important in Latvian mythology. The pirts, or sauna (in the foreground at right), the birch grove and the farmstead gate all have significance. Growing up on his grandfather’s farm near Valka in northern Latvia, my father became aware of these symbols at an early age. Painted in 1989 in Brooklyn, New York, Mythic Latvian Farmstead is the last work he completed in his lifetime.
“I was born in May of 1914 in Volosovo, Russia, near St. Petersburg. I spent a good part of my early childhood at my grandfather’s farmstead known as “Sīļi,” near the town of Valka in Latvia’s northern province known as Vidzeme. My first childhood recollections are associated with this place: with ancient log structures, enormous thatched roofs that were covered over with moss; with dense spruce forests; with roads deeply rutted out by wagons, and gray stones piled up in the middle of meadows. I recall rooms with log rafters, bread ovens in the center of the house with multiple hearths; and meadows on the banks of the Gauja River graced by huge ancient oak trees, bales of hay, threshing barns and granaries—which back then were still unscathed in their antiquity.”
„Esmu dzimis 1914. g. maijā, Volosova, Krievijā. Daļu bērnības pavadīju vectēva mājās “Sīļos” Vidzemē pie Valkas. Mani pirmie paliekošie bērnības iespaidi saistas ar šo vietu. Ar senām guļkoku celtnēm milzu apsūnojušiem salmu jumtiem, bieziem egļu mežiem, ratu izbrauktiem ceļiem ar lieliem, pelēkiem akmeņiem tīrumu vidū. Istabas ar balķu sijām, maizes krāsni mājas centrā un virtuvi ar daudziem pavardiem. Tad Gaujas līču pļavas ar senozoliem, siena šķūnīšiem, rijām, klētīm, kas toreiz vēl bija neskārtas savā senatnīgumā.”