The portraits of Latvian cultural figures by the photographer Uldis Briedis, which can be seen in the exhibition, were made as photographic records of the signs, events and spirit of their time. They have a documentary and at the same time timeless character. The faces of those who had been captured in the most diverse moments of life, allow the viewer to encounter the essence of creativity - the feeling of inner freedom, which, despite the external framework of time, is in continuous connection with the source and truth. Creativity is a manifestation of inner freedom that cannot be silenced or hidden. It breaks out like a nugget, even in moments when it seems possible only in the subtext. It is the freedom to be and to speak in the universal language of signs, symbols, tonalities, strokes, polypoints and sounds.

The portraits of Imants Ziedonis, Raimonds Pauls, Mirdza Martinsone, Katrīne Pasternaka, Mārtiņš Brauns, Uldis Stabulnieks, Ēriks Hānbergs, Egon Līvs, Haralds Sīmanis and other cultural icons of Latvia, more than 60 in total, were made in the period from 1966 to 2010. And reflects people and events for more than half a century. They embody the feeling of Latvia, which resides in each of our subconscious, passed down from generation to generation, but which we lose moment by moment in everyday life. And of its fragility reality reminds us harshly and directly.

Many of the people in these portraits no longer exist. But their imprint, emotions and strength of spirit live on in the photographs. As the legendary photographer Alfred Stieglitz once said: “There is such a subtle reality in photography that it becomes more real than reality.”

For Uldis Briedis, the main thing in photography is truth. A thought revealed through a gesture, a look in the eyes, a lock of hair, a light, a smile, a half-stifled syllable, a tear. He himself says about the era in which his heroes - contemporaries and friends - live: “It was like a starting shot for people's freedom.” For the unlimited, absolute, in which all possibilities are present. Such a moment of culmination of freedom is possible only in moments when both conditions coincide - inner freedom is in synchronicity and synergy with outer freedom.

It has always been important for Uldis Briedis to capture his portrait subject as he is - in the specific moment and space of time. And he has sometimes devoted countless hours to this - simply being present, talking, observing, not disturbing, letting the person be. As he himself says, observation is the first prerequisite. “In order to get close to the human being, you have to observe. Appearance, angle, gestures, how the light changes, posture, grimaces. It all flows through the head like a stream. When I shoot, I don't have a free moment. Although sometimes it seems from the outside that I have raised the camera only a few times.”

Looking at the portraits taken by Uldis Briedis, we seem to experience history all over again. And knowledge. Also about ourselves.

A person's face is a mirror in which both the reality of the surrounding world and emotions and feelings are reflected. Uldis Briedis does not hide his emotionality either, and these portraits are in a sense also his mirror image. 

A story about people, the manifestation of life energy and ideas, and also the power of the idea itself. And at the same time, they are a reminder and an encouragement - if they could, so can we.

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:

Great Amber in collaboration with Ola Foundation and Autonams

Supported by:

Liepāja City Council

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