Mikelis Fisers

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Article

Apocalyptic visions

Latvian artist, Mikelis Fisers, was born in Riga in 1970 where he lives and works. Prominent among the younger generation of Latvian artists, Fisers is robust and unequivocal in his visceral engagement with controversial social and political issues. Painting is a central aspect to his work which is often presented as installations and environmental art projects. One of the most characteristic features of Fisers´ work is a narrative presence which draws on sub-cultural code systems and his own private mythology.
Mikelis Fisers was born in Riga in 1970. He studied at the Latvian Academy of Arts, initially in manufacturing design. He then specialised in painting, taking his BA and masters studies in the Monumental Painting Department. An active participant in the Latvian art scene, he has exhibited widely in the Baltic States. He lives and works in Riga.

In Latvia, Fisers is known for works described as ‘provocatively defiant’ which have engaged with issues of religion, science and the State and brought him into conflict with the state authorities. In 1995, his degree show series of large paintings ‘Sex and Spaceships’ was banned from the ‘Misfits’ exhibition in Vilnius for ‘being dangerous to the well-being of the general public’. The work portrayed sexual intercourse between aliens and human beings. Although it initially met with outrage, a later reading of the work has, according to critic and curator Ilze Black, identified it as ‘an important marker for the current social situation that Latvia now finds itself having to deal with’. Alluding to the rapid changes in the country, at times caught between two conflicting belief systems, Black describes its ‘darker, more apocalyptic vision for the future’.

A later work exhibited in Riga in 1997, ‘MC 4 ID’, about three Baltic presidents also raised controversy. Ecstasy tablets, glued to one of the paintings, generated a row in the Press and among anti-drug organisations and led to the intervention of the state authorities.

Fisers uses painting techniques, often developed as installations and environmental art projects. However, unlike most other younger Latvian artists, painting remains central to his work. One of the most characteristic features of his work is a narrative presence which draws on sub-cultural code systems and uses his own private mythology to approach ‘eternal issues’.

Mikelis Fisers was awarded the Visiting Arts/Spike Island Fellowship in 2002, living and working in Bristol for four months. In the gallery of Spike Island, he created a monumental structure entitled ‘In Memoriam’. An installation combining painting, text, consumer products, a bulldozer and body parts of dead animals, the work referenced the Foot and Mouth epidemic which resulted in the slaughter of millions of animals in Britain and dominated the news while he was in the UK.

Ilze Black’s review of ‘In Memoriam’ (see Visiting Arts weblink) describes how the artist ‘sets out to create an impression, which could convey the monumental scale of the atrocity that Fisers is intent on rediscovering’. She comments, ‘By recreating this unsettling mourning Fisers not only takes compassion upon the lives involved in this tragedy, he also depicts an aspect of violence in the face of economics that represents our present time. Through the daily repetition of the notions of abuse, violence becomes normalised’.

Fisers has taken part in most significant exhibitions in the past decade in Latvia and participated in several international art projects in the Nordic countries and beyond. In 1998 he set up the second All Latvian Contemporary Art Exhibition and has done a number of projects outside gallery spaces including Open TV on LNT national television.

He was nominated for the Visiting Arts/Spike Island Fellowship by Solvita Krese, Director of the Latvian Centre of Contemporary Art. She commented that Fisers’s solo exhibitions have ‘convincingly demonstrated his creative potential and idiosyncrasy’.
Author: Judith Staines

Bio

Born in 1970 in Riga, Mikelis Fisers entered the Latvian contemporary art scene in the 1990s. He has exhibited widely in the Baltics and has been an active participant in the art community over his short career. He lives and works in Riga. Fisers studied at the Latvian Academy of Arts in the Departments of Design and Monumental Painting.

He has gained prominence for creating a number of provocatively defiant works and his work has been banned and censored by state authorities. Fisers has been selected for international residencies in Switzerland and in the UK where he was awarded the prestigious Visiting Arts/Spike Island Fellowship in 2002.

Works

In Memoriam

Exhibition / Installation,
2002
Installation at Spike Island gallery, Bristol, UK

Baltic Security!

Exhibition / Installation,
2001
Group exhibition: Arlanda Airport, Stockholm; installation ´Misunderstanding in the Forest´

Contemporary Utopia

Exhibition / Installation,
2001
Group exhibition: Exhibition Hall Arsenals, Riga; installation ´Armageddon´

2nd Worldwide Latvian Contemporary Art Exhibition

Exhibition / Installation,
1998
Group exhibition: State Museum of Art, Riga

Art from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania

Exhibition / Installation,
1998
Group exhibition: Gallery Collegium Artisticum, Sarajevo

Grammar

Exhibition / Installation,
1998
Group exhibition: Rotermann Salt Storage, Tallinn

Biennale ARTGENDA 96

Exhibition / Installation,
1996
Group exhibition, Oksnehallen, Cpenhagen

Horizon Line

Exhibition / Installation,
1995
Group exhibition: Art Exhibition of the Baltic Sea States, Szczecin, Poland

Sex ´n´ Spaceships

Exhibition / Installation,
1995
Solo exhibition, Gallery M6, Riga

Sometimes They Return

Exhibition / Installation,
1994
Solo exhibition: Gallery G & G, Riga

Merits

2002 Visiting Arts International Fellowship: Spike Island Residency, Bristol, UK
1993-94 ARTEST international programme in Switzerland (grant from Stiftung Kunstlerhaus Boswil)

Projects

This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

Spike Island International Fellowship 2002

(30 October 01 - 30 July 02)

Www

Visiting Arts (1)

Press release for Spike Island Fellowship.

Visiting Arts (2)

Ilze Black´s review of ´In Memoriam´ and Mikelis Fisers´ work.

Baltic Security

Work by Mikelis Fisers for Baltic Security exhibition.
images
Mikelis Fisers
MC 4 ID
Mikelis Fisers
Armagedon
Mikelis Fisers
Sex ´n´ Spaceships