Small, but surprisingly beautiful islands and atolls of the Pacific or Oceania, as they commonly name 14 countries in the region, extend from the Strait of Malacca to the coast of North and South America. The community here survived with its traditions, hierarchy of chiefs, priests, warriors and commoners, who for centuries cultivated the land and fished. They believe here in the future, considering it important to preserve their lineage, carefully remembering and honoring the traditions. Many families, in particular, still can trace their earthly lineage that goes back to the Gods.
The inhabitants of these islands have always created special artistic forms and models, inspired by their ancestral family, their special physical, social and spiritual environment, which their life was filled with. Many of these works are still an integral part of the rituals that govern Pacific Islanders in their public life, the orientation in the ocean, as well as the time of birth, marriage and other ceremonies, long before the discovery of the islands by Europeans in the early 19th century.
Although the distance between these two groups of islands can be daunting, their inhabitants strongly share and support the common cultural heritage.
These islands are ones of the most remote places on the Earth, their creativity is rarely mentioned in the international space of arts and crafts.
Latvian Museum of the History of Medicine in collaboration with the TAPA Foundation and the Museum of the Pacific Arts, arranging this exhibition, have made an attempt to discover "Pacific Colors" on the other side of the equator for the inhabitants of the Baltic States.
A long history of colonization by European countries left rich cultural and historical heritage for the islands of Oceania, which is attractive both by their own traditions, and the legacy of the colonial past. The exhibition displays a number of artifacts from the late 19th and early 20th century. These items had a significant impact on the development of modern art, they have been studied and such artists as Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin and Henry Moore admired them. They still continue to inspire artists of the Pacific Islands, many of which create their own incredible works of art.
A collection of paintings of prominent artists of the Pacific Islands is represented in the exhibition at the Museum of the History of Medicine named after Pauls Stradins. Among these works - paintings of Nicholas Mishutushkin and Aloya Pilioko from Vanuatu. Modern style and the use of bright colors in the works of these famous artists known around the world are an illustration of the beauty that surrounded them, and inspired every day. Most of the details that appear in the paintings show a variety of colors and styles that are typical for the landscape of the Pacific Islands. Among Tapas collection (mats of stems and leaves of plants) you can see the patterns that are found only in the Oceania region. The styles and motifs on Tapas natural fabrics vary depending on the particular traditions of each family, from island to island, from village to village, but the use of Tapa unites all the inhabitants of Oceania.
Before the opening of the Pacific Islands in the 19th century tapa was used as clothing, sails and canoes were made of it. Tapa production is quite labor-intensive, and currently being used, as a rule, for ceremonial and ritual occasions. Tapas, which were donated to Fiji Royal family Fiji by the King of Tonga, are also represented in this exhibition.
An important feature of this exhibition is the opportunity to learn how the people of Oceania survived from ailments, using the means at hand, before civilization has brought about changes. Most of the residents had to consult with traditional healers and medicine men to heal their ailments, but they mostly used herbal recipes.
Joint exhibition provided an opportunity to learn more about the cultural and artistic practices of the inhabitants of the South Pacific. After a visit of this exhibition, an indelible impression of the Oceania is left, as of unique and surprisingly diverse region – untouched paradise on the Earth.