Raimonds Staprans

(b. 1926)

About The Artist

"To earn its name, a painting has to possess a little magic." – Raimonds Staprans

Known for his vivid, abstract views of nature and signature depictions of recognizable objects, such as fruit, paint cans and chairs, Bay Area artist Raimonds Staprans's work eludes classification. Engaging rigorously with the formal and aesthetic potential of light and color, Staprans's minimalist compositions straddle the line between realism and abstraction to exude a power all their own.

Born in 1926 in Riga, Latvia, Staprans immigrated to the U.S. in 1947 after he and his family fled the Soviet invasion of their home country. He first studied art at the University of Washington under Alexander Archipenko and Mark Tobey, and continued his training under the tutelage of Hans Hoffman and Karl Kasten at the University of California Berkeley, receiving his master's degree in 1954.

It was during his time at Berkeley that Staprans claimed his own distinctive niche among the newly established Bay Area Figurative artists, a loosely defined group which included Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, Elmer Bischoff, James Weeks, Roland Peterson and Wayne Thiebaud. His pared down still life and landscape subjects, realized through a richly saturated palette, revealed his fascination with the "architecture" of everyday objects and their interaction with light. As art historian and founding director of the Berkeley Art Museum Peter Selz put it, "Light is the chief protagonist in Staprans's paintings."

In addition to being a celebrated painter, Staprans is also an accomplished writer, who is recognized internationally for his plays. Through his written work, Staprans explores the tension between fact and fiction, totalitarian ‘reality' and human truth, set against the backdrop of his Latvian homeland's twentieth century history. In 2003, Staprans was awarded Latvia's highest civilian honor, the Three Star Medal, the equivalent of the United States' Presidential Medal of Freedom. Staprans's paintings are held in the permanent collections in the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the San Jose Museum of Art, and the Portland Art Museum, among others. A career retrospective of his art that opened at the Pasadena Museum of California Art in March 2006 traveled to Staprans's hometown of Riga and was then exhibited by the Latvian National Museum of Art later that year.

"Raimonds Staprans; Paintings." Hackett Mill. Accessed November 11, 2020: http://www.hackettmill.com/exhibitions/raimonds-staprans

"Raimond Staprans paintings." Modern Sculpture. Accessed November 11, 2020: https://www.modernsculpture.com/raimonds-staprans