Auseklis Baušķenieks, 1910 - 2007
One of the leading figures of Latvian avant-garde painting, Auseklis Baušķenieks, died on Saturday at the age of ninety-six. He was attracted to visual art as a student of architecture at the University of Latvia in the 1930s and graduated from the Academy of Arts in 1942. After serving in the Latvian Legion and being held as a prisoner of war by the English, French, and Americans, he returned to Latvia in 1946. His first individual exhibition was in 1975. The target of Auseklis Baušķenieks' works, subjected to a warm but acerbic irony often suffused with strong, sad social commentary, quickly switched from homo sovieticus to consumerism and our troubled transitional democracy once independence was restored -- in "Pikets" ("The Picket," 1993), for example, the sign says "yes to us"... the banner behind it, "no to those and these." The painting above, entitled "Māte Eiropa" ("Mother Europe"), is from the Latvian Artists' Society -- other works by Baušķenieks can be found at his pages there and at Mans's Gallery. Auseklis' son Ingus Baušķenieks founded the then underground music group Dzeltenie pastnieki in the 1980s ("The Yellow Postmen" -- under the Soviets, the color of mailboxes was blue... the postal color is again yellow); the group still exists (a track can be heard here).