Searching by fats editions of the Latvian Soviet Encyclopedia as a baby, Elza Sīle felt one thing like a psychedelic expertise as patterns started to emerge from this analogue, alphabetically organized Wikipedia: a ten-volume undertaking undertaken within the Nineteen Eighties whose outsize aspirations to common information fell prey to the distortions of state ideology. A piece of fiction as a lot as reality, its hundreds of articles, maps, and illustrations of nature, anatomy, and apparatchiks function the inspiration behind “Bi-Dža, Ge-Ilk, Mir-Nul,” the Latvian-born, Zurich-based artist’s enigmatic first exhibition in Riga.
Taking a fabric strategy, the artist squeezes thick traces and dots of paint straight from tubes onto the canvas, texturing her abstractions additional with items of plastic, gelatin, and tiny steel sticks assembled in fragile assist buildings to carry images minimize from the encyclopedia. Sīle’s formal experiments, whose built-up image planes generally appear to double as architectural fashions or navy stratagems, resist direct readings, creating house as an alternative for an associative richness. The muted, stretched-leather helps of her chamfered “Bi-Dža” work, for instance, vaguely evoke the economic doorways of Soviet housing blocks or, from a distance, the tufted upholstery of a psychoanalyst’s sofa. With a light-weight contact, the artist has enmeshed portraits of Soviet bureaucrats in layers of oil paint, acrylic, and glitter; they give the impression of being absurd. Elsewhere, a bunch of floorbound paintings-cum-objects on aluminum plates, titled “Ge-Ilk” and propped up by elegant weblike constructions, call to mind avenue indicators or riot shields. For “Mir-Nul,” canvases have been wrapped round sticks, like some form of a pores and skin, and hung them on the wall. All through, Sīle slyly deconstructs grand ideological narratives and the language of her medium in a single go, her bibliographic supply materials discovering new varieties whereas retaining a paradoxical sense of cosmic order and illegibility.