The Nationwide Latvian Song and Dance Festival can without a doubt be considered one of the most important values of the Latvian people, and this year it will once again gather thousands of singers and dancers from all over Latvia and the world. Yet, this tradition can be viewed from another angle. In a series of 12 silk-screen prints (drawings), internationally acclaimed Latvian master of graphic art and drawing Māris Bišofs offers his interpretation of this celebration, exploring new traits and definitions in its semantics.

The concept of the exhibition and the drawings were created in 2018. The idea for this project came from art historian Uldis Mākulis, who asked Māris Bišofs to produce a cycle of 12 silk-screen print drawings dedicated to the Song and Dance Festival. In his signature style, the artist used the drawings to examine what this festival means to us as Latvians and to encourage reflections upon the significance and role of this tradition in Latvian culture. 

Māris Bišofs’ works can be viewed in art space Civita Nova of the Concert Hall in large format, which allows one to perceive the idea behind each drawing on a larger scale.

“Māris Bišofs is a Drawer. Nothing goes unnoticed under the artist’s sharp, microscopic view. It is seemingly distanced, yet never superficial, even though his chosen perspective is that of a hot-air balloon. Bišofs’ observations are accurate, and the meaning of his drawings must be read between the lines. Māris Bišofs reveals new layers in the apparently known without ever copying reality. This time, the Song and Dance Festival falls under the Drawer’s Microscope.”

 Uldis Mākulis, curator of the exhibition

Not without the artist’s typical sense of irony, the works are graphically intriguing and rather descriptive, including a specific thought. The artist has represented such integral elements of the festival as the dress rehearsal, which is symbolically looked upon by the original founders from a cloud, and the participants’ parade, which is depicted in several drawings.

One drawing shows a scene of a Latvian song and dance festival abroad, which the artist himself has experienced in the USA. In another, he looks back at Soviet Latvia, where brothers Imants and Gido Kokars pulled the weight of Latvian traditions though years of oppression.

Māris Bišofs (b. 1939)is known for his ironic drawings. The first of such works were published in Dadzis magazine in 1963. In 1972, the artist emigrated to Israel, where he gained recognition and published his first books of drawings, The Exhibition, Encounters, and Sexercises. Later, Bišofs worked in Paris and the USA and started doing newspaper illustrations. His illustrations have been published in such media as Time, The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, and others. The artist has received several awards for his work, including a Bronze Heinrich at the 1975 International Cartoon Exhibition in Berlin. Since 2003, Māris Bišofs has returned to Latvia and is still active in drawing and photography techniques. A major part of the works that the artist has created and continues to do so include universal themes and unfading importance. He posts daily drawings on Facebook, receiving instant reactions from viewers. In Latvia, his works are often published in Diena, Rīgas Laiks, Ir. A compilation of the artist’s stories, Dom-raxti, was published in 2022.

Admission: free

Opening hours: Mon–Fri 11 a.m.–5 p.m., Sat–Sun 10 a.m.–3 p.m.


Civita Nova 1

Organized by:

Lielais dzintars

Supported by:

Liepāja City Council

Related news