Dr. Amy Bryzgel’s latest book, Miervaldis Polis, has been published by Neputns in Latvia, the leading publisher of art historical texts in Lativa. This is the first monograph published on the Latvian painter, performance artist and theorist, who was born in 1948, and it is a project that has been more than ten years in the making. When Dr. Bryzgel first arrived in Latvia to do field research for her doctoral dissertation in 2003, there were very few materials available on the artist – just a few binders full of articles and press clippings, available at the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art. Dr. Bryzgel learned Latvian in order to be able to read these secondary sources, and to be able to interview the artist.
Following the completion of her first book, Performing the East: Performance Art in Russia, Latvia and Poland since 1980 (IB Tauris, 2013), which included one chapter dedicated to Polis’s performances, Dr. Bryzgel felt that there was still a gap in the literature, as there was no publication that examined the entirety of Polis’s body of work – from his paintings in the 1970s, to his performances in the 1980s, and his return to painting as a formal portrait painter in the 1990s. When she first met Polis in 2003, she asked him whether there would be a monograph about his work, to which the artist replied: “for what?! They can write about me when I’m dead!” After several years of working with the artist, he finally agreed to being the subject of a monograph. In the course of writing the manuscript, Dr. Bryzgel received support from the Latvian Culture Capital Fund, the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies, and a letter of commendation from the Chancery of the President of Latvia for dedicating her study to Polis. She completed the writing of the book in 2012, after which it was then translated into Latvian for publication. Neputns has spent the last three years working to amass the most complete representation of the artist’s work to be reproduced in the volume, contacting private collectors and international collections to obtain photographs of his work. The book contains over 200 color images of his paintings, sculptures, and photographs of his performances and daily life.
About the publication, Dr. Bryzgel has said “I am very excited that my work can contribute to the literature on the history of art in Latvia. It is incredibly rare for someone outside the community of Latvian art historians to publish a book about a Latvian artist, so I am honored that my colleagues in Latvia supported my work, and that Neputns accepted my project.” The book, entitled Miervaldis Polis is available only in Latvian, from Neputns, but Dr. Bryzgel hopes to someday have her book also published in English.