Eva Lange’s signs
Gundega Cēbere, Art Historian

Sculptor Eva Lange (born 1935) is from Stockholm and was educated at the Stockholm Decorative Arts School (1953–1959) and the National Art College (1959–1964). Lange has been an active participant in Sweden’s artistic life since 1964, and alongside her creative work she has been a teacher and director of the Birkagarden Community Art School. In 1997 she was elected an honorary member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Arts.

Lange first visited Riga for a few days in late autumn 1989, when she met a number of Latvian sculptors, including Ojārs Feldbergs, Ligita Ulmane and Ojārs Breģis.

In 1991, together with other Swedish sculptors, she took part in the Baltic Sculpture Quadrennial.

Lange has a particular sense of the plastic, with the material and spirit seemingly interlaced hand in hand. Three of her bronze and marble works displayed in the Latvija exhibition hall drew the attention of the international jury at the Riga-92 Quadrennial, winning Lange an award and the opportunity to hold a solo exhibition in Riga.

But the award was not the only reason why she kept in touch with Latvian artists. Perhaps the closeness is due to an affinity of ethos, cultural heritage, tradition and perception of nature. In autumn 1993 Lange held a personal exhibition at Gallery Riga, and three years later her drawings were displayed at the gallery Garāža Antra. A couple of years after that, on the basis of Lange’s sketches Pauls Jaunzems carved out of red granite the large scale work Tulip, and the sculpture travelled to the hills of Pedvāle. This summer the gallery Māksla XO hosted a joint exhibition titled Base of Heart and Home by Lange and Laris Strunke, a Latvian artist living in Sweden.
View from Eva Lange's exhibition. 1999
Courtesy of the artist
Eva Lange. The Big Glass. Glass. Diam. 120 cm. 2007
Courtesy of the artist
Eva Lange in her studio. 1998
Courtesy of the artist
I have had the opportunity to visit Lange many times at her home in central Stockholm, her workshop in the city and also at her summer house on Gotland. It was there in the summer of 1993 that I saw for the first time, resting under the tall trees by the church, a variant of her outdoor sculpture Tulip, as part of the international art event Spirit of Place.

Feeling a sense of harmony and beauty in the presence of nature is one of the national treasures of the Northern European mentality. When viewing Lange’s works, one is left with an impression that the starting point has been some experience or encounter with nature, which has then been intellectualised into sculpture. It could be the moment of emotion watching the expanse of the sea, or a grey, tired rock on the Gotland shore, or the harsh beauty of the Icelandic foothills. Or perhaps the impulse came from listening to Latvian folk song. You just have to feel the rhythm of things and find it within yourself. Plastic form, structure and material – these are the scupltural issues Lange explores in her work. She observes and arranges, unites and combines laconic geometric forms, creating interactions and contrasts between materials and colours. An inkling of the impulse can be perceived in the accentuated details, and the forms are chosen so as to show parallels, semi tone nuances, for example in the works Cactus Palm (bronze, circa 1980) and Helmet (gypsum plaster, later granite, 1992–1993).

In her work Lange constantly studies forms, their possibilities and their juxtaposition with the space and the materials. She is fascinated by light and shadow, the interplay of surfaces and textures. In fact, light for her is a most important material – the smallest ray becomes a part of the creative process, and the changing space of light represents time.

A cylinder, a circle, an ellipse. A circle in a circle, a sphere inside a sphere – these elements are used to build thoughtful, united wholes. Whether spheres or cylinders are being formed, they are plastic forms rather than geometric bodies. It takes a lot of concentration to create poetic imagery with such limited means of expression. They symbolize the state of being, movement and mood of things. The works are not separate from one another, in terms of style and motif they are a single entity rather than a collection of individual sculptures.

Everything is planned and anticipated, but at the same time Lange possesses brilliant skills of improvisation. This can be seen in her regular Tulip motifs which exude a powerful emotional aura, yet in themselves are reserved and unobtrusive. In small and even tiny exhibition works, as well as the impressive granite outdoor sculptures, all that remains of form is a relative stylisation that has as much to do with the world of archaic signs as with the wealth of contemporary symbols. Lange is interested in the surface of the sculpture, with all its possibilities and restrictions.

The artist chooses to use quality materials for her works: marble, alabaster, bronze, Swedish dolomite, Latvian granite and a special gypsum plaster. Lange’s art is ruled by a meditative calm and concentration allied with simplicity in form and material, avoiding the temptation of yielding to superficial effects. Her discovery of recent years has been glass, used in large-scale sculptures.

Drawings are a separate story for Lange. Usually they are at the service of a work, to fix an idea and to analyse its variations. But a period with a broken arm that prevented her from sculpting released unexpected impulses for drawing, unveiling a fascination with the tones and textures of paper, black on black, white and grey. These large-scale drawings could be the key that enables her to open up so wholeheartedly to the language of images in sculpture.

Eva Lange’s works blend into the environment, yet maintain their autonomy. Lange’s sculpture doesn’t tell a story, rather, it inspires us to think. In a world where words cause so much noise, she gives people back their silence, the ability to transform the small into the truly grand, to find the exemplary in the mundane and to apppreciate it as a value to treasure. And to live life consciously, observers becoming participants.

/Translator into English: Filips Birzulis/
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