Celmins on painting her childhood memories of war
Vija Celmins was raised in a German family. They were displaced as refugees during World War Two, living first in Latvia before eventually settling in the Midwestern United States. She painted this plane in the mid-1960s, after she had finished her graduate studies. Even though it was done years later, it clearly reflects very personal and very haunting memories of that time. Here’s Vija Celmins:
You know when I was little, I didn’t think of the War as anything bad, I was unconscious then too. I didn’t know. You know I thought everybody lived like this. And I had gone through some experiences which must have like stayed in my little body there and kind of came out when I was like searching for images, searching for little tones that I could hit, searching for someplace to connect.
And I collected a lot of little war images and I began to paint them. I had a lot of airplanes. I used to like airplanes probably because when I was little I heard many planes above me, but I also liked the idea of flying.
I like the fact that it’s a very still painting, but yet it has like indicated movement. Actually the propellers on this plane have stopped, and they’re throwing out things out of the back, you see.
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