Ojārs Pētersons’ three-section art object The Large Vase was fully completed and unveiled on 26 September 2016.
The Large Vase is a whole entity, comprised of three parts. The biggest section of the vase can be found outside the Castle of Light, while one quarter is now located near the Riga Stradiņš University. A mosaic lines the outer object. It is made up of over 14,000 ceramic tiles, each one of which is adorned with a letter of the alphabet. Together, they form a fragment of a text by Garlieb Merkel.
The first part of The Large Vase was erected in 2014. In 2016, the second part of “The Large Vase” was unveiled. It is now located near the Riga Stradiņš University. In the summer of 2021, the art object "Large Vase 1/4" was placed to its originally intended location near the main building of Riga Stradins University (Dzirciema Street 16) - next to the alma mater of philanthropist, doctor, and businessman Boris Teterev. Previously, the "Large Vase 1/4" was in a temporary place - in a semicircle at the Akmens bridge and AB dam.
The third and final part of the object is comprised of the publication of a fragment of Garlieb Helwig Merkel’s book "Vidzeme’s Ancient Times". The aforementioned publication was also created by the artist and contains an excerpt from a work by Merkel. Published in Latvian, English, French, German, Spanish, and Russian. It is available in Latvian libraries.
According to artist Ojārs Pētersons, “These sections can be pieced together by anybody, augmenting them with his or her own input. The inspiration for this art object was Garlieb Helwig Merkel’s book, Vidzeme’s Ancient Times, which is essentially more a work of 18th century contemporary art than a historical testimony about the Latvian people of that era.”
The Large Vase invites wide-ranging interpretations. As curator Helēna Demakova explains, “The vase’s granite interior alludes to our latitude and country life. On the other hand, adorned with the fragment from Merkel’s text, its exterior highlights the influence of European culture and historical experience, which is reinforced by the vase’s form.”
In the spring of 2013, The Large Vase was one of the award-winning projects in the Riga Smiles competition organised by the foundation. With the ultimate blessing of architect Gunārs Birkerts, the National Library of Latvia’s commission of art experts authorised its installation outside the library.
Ojārs Pētersons (1956) graduated from the Art Academy of Latvia’s (AAL) Design Department in 1980. A decade later, in 1990, he joined the academy’s teaching staff as a lecturer at the AAL Visual Communication Department.
As an artist creating public works of art, Ojārs Pētersons is vastly experienced. His works have been installed in Latvia, Finland, Sweden and Germany. In August 2014, his two-piece orange sculpture The Bridge over the Sea was unveiled in the German city of Eckernförde. The Riga part of this work is in storage, alongside other works from the future Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art, until an appropriate location for its installation is found in Riga.
The passage from G. H. Merkel’s book Vidzeme’s Ancient Times.