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2003 | 3 | 86-95
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TEODORS ZALKALNS' MOTHER IMAGES. SOME ASPECTS OF FORM AND ARCHETYPAL ORIGINS (Teodora Zalkalna 'maminas'. Dazi formrades un arhetipisko saknojumu aspekti)

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The 'Standing Mother' (1915), a small-scaled, carefully polished dark diorite sculpture, and the 'Seated Mother' (modeled in 1916, carved in grey granite in 1923) are classic works by the Latvian sculptor Teodors Zalkalns (1876-1972). These polyvalent images compound universal experience with realist features rooted in national environment and spirit of the age. Zalkalns said: 'While creating 'mothers' I intentionally looked for a clear, crystalline, synthesized, whole form. I created them like buildings with certain planes and lines, giving up all insignificant details.' Analysing the peculiar type of architectonic approach in these stone sculptures, we can discern an intuitive treatment of proportions close to peasant buildings as well as a direct constructive link with tectonic relations of the peasant women's clothes - kerchief, woolen shawl and long skirt. Art historian Boris Vipper also has noted this peculiar tectonic principle in relation to types of Latvian peasant buildings. The 'Standing Mother', the 'Seated Mother' and the small porcelain 'Mother' all feature pyramidal form in their compositional structure. It is a tectonic matrix with semantic links to archetypal ideas of form creation. Pyramidal consolidation of forms reminds of stability and permanence, creating a clear focusing of attention and energetic effect. Zalkalns has always stressed the legacy of Ancient Egypt in respect to stone as a sculptural material but achievements of other ancient civilizations had not been mentioned. Still the formal features of the 'Standing Mother', for example, expose certain similarity to some of Mesopotamian stone sculptures. The Louvre exposition of Mesopotamian art includes small (about 35-100 cm) standing figures, carved from diorite, that surprise with their well-balanced proportions and spiritual enlightenment. The energetic effect of these images is close to Zalkalns' skill to achieve monumentality in small-scale sculptures.
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