Daiga Grantina

Buff in Bloom, Glow and Thumos


Not on display

Daiga Grantina born 1985
Elastane fabric, resin, wire mesh, nylon, aluminium, plastic, acrylic sheet and other materials
Overall dimensions variable
Purchased with funds provided by the Russia and Eastern Europe Acquisitions Committee 2020


Buff in Bloom, Glow and Thumos 2016 is a large-scale sculptural work by the Latvian-born artist Daiga Grantina. It comprises three large sculptures, each four and a half metres high. They are displayed as a group, suspended from the ceiling on metal wire at one end and resting on the floor at the other. The objects are made of nylon resin and lycra. Each one also includes colourful plastic elements. Grantina frequently works with found, everyday materials and this group is representative of this approach.

The work was shown for the first time in the exhibition Adhesive Objects, which was part of the Bergen Assembly in 2016. Taking as a starting point Linda Benglis’s (born 1941) eponymous experiments with industrial materials, the show featured contemporary artists who transgress the limitations of sculpture. Grantina’s contribution – monumental objects made of liquid plastic and elastane – not only evoked Benglis’s investigations into the processes of pouring and casting but also challenged the physical qualities of the materials used, reflecting the artist’s ongoing commitment to exploring the medium of sculpture matter and its processes. Typical of Grantina’s practice, the semi-translucent layers of nylon resin in Buff in Bloom, Glow and Thumos incorporate light as an active element of their structure, contributing to their gravity-defying appearance. Furthermore, exploiting lycra’s elasticity and strength and covering the fabric with coats of resin, Grantina tested its shaping qualities and ability to achieve organic forms reminiscent of the human body.

This corporeal aspect gains prominence thanks to the title of the work, which points towards the importance of the beige, fleshy colour of the sculptures. The smooth resin shells are indeed redolent of skin and trigger associations with fragmented bodily shapes. Curator Martha Kirszenbaum has compared Grantina’s practice to that of to the post-war Polish sculptor Alina Szapocznikow (1926–1973), while also situating her works in the broader context of art in the aftermath of World War II, specifically European art informel. Writing in 2015 about slightly earlier work than this, she described the:

haunting and formidable ensemble of organic sculptures intertwined on the floor and walls of the gallery – pieces of flesh and rough components, suspended, floating or leaning on the walls of the white cube, suggesting an entire body dislocated and distorted. The idea of the living flux appears at the core of the artist’s practice, evoking the notion of ‘formless’ coined by French writer George Bataille.
(Kirszenbaum 2015, p.61.)

Unlike the traumatised bodies formed by Szapocznikow, Jean Dubuffet (1901–1985) or their contemporaries, Buff in Bloom, Glow and Thumos represent bodies that flourish, as implied by the individual sculptures’ names. Growing up in a foreign country, in Germany as opposed to her native Latvia, Grantina developed a keen interest in linguistics. The titles of her works, frequently borrowed from classical languages, always hint at their meaning. The Greek term thumos, for instance, translates to ‘spiritedness’ and indicates an association with breath and blood. By choosing it for the work’s title, the artist suggests the presence of animate matter within the synthetic substance and thus inscribes her work into contemporary debates on post-humanism. The neon-coloured plastic elements disturb the organic flow of curvy shapes to remind us of the industrial origins of the materials used. This visual tension raises questions about the relationship of our bodies to technology, a recurring motif in Grantina’s work.

Further reading
Martha Kirszenbaum, ‘Daiga Grantina’, Kaleidoscope, no.25, 2015, p.61.
Stephanie Seidel, ‘Daiga Grantina’, Cura, no.24, 2017, pp.202–5.
Inga Lāce and Valentinas Klimašauskas, Saules Suns, exhibition catalogue, The Pavilion of Latvia at the 58th Venice Biennale, 11 May–24 November 2019.

Kasia Redzisz
June 2019

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