Paintings by Raimonds Staprans the Focus of Exhibition Opening at SJMA, February 2

  • Raimonds Staprans Sunshine Pears, 2006 Oil on canvas 43 ¼ × 49 ¾ inches The Buck Collection through the University of California, Irvine

    Raimonds Staprans Sunshine Pears, 2006 Oil on canvas 43 ¼ × 49 ¾ inches The Buck Collection through the University of California, Irvine

The colorful still lifes, landscapes, and architectural paintings by San Francisco artist Raimonds Staprans are the subject of an exhibition opening at the San José Museum of Art this February. Full Spectrum: Paintings by Raimonds Staprans, on view February 2, 2018 through May 20, 2018, comprises more than fifty paintings spanning Staprans’s artistic career from 1956 to 2015. Born in Latvia in 1926, Staprans has lived and worked in his home in Potrero Hill in San Francisco for the past six decades. The exhibition examines Staprans’s deeply personal style as well as his depth of experience in Northern California, which has resulted in work that is in sync with that of his Bay Area contemporaries, such as Richard Diebenkorn, Gregory Kondos, and Wayne Thiebaud.

The exhibition was organized by the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA. The San José Museum of Art is the only traveling venue for the exhibition. The painting The Two Gesso Cans (1999), from SJMA’s permanent collection, is included in the exhibition.

“Staprans still lifes exude both calm and drama, and he is the stylistic equal of other Bay Area artists including Richard Diebenkorn, but with a uniquely singular voice,” said S. Sayre Batton, Oshman Executive Director of SJMA.

Many of Staprans’s paintings depict the landscape and architecture of California, rooted in both reality and the artist’s imagination. He describes his paintings as “purely Californian” and uses a palette of saturated blues, oranges, greens, and yellows. His still-life paintings of fruit, artist’s materials, and chairs also share this quality of light and rich color— sometimes including a full prismatic spectrum. Staprans’s work expands upon California’s rich and evolving history since the Gold Rush, when most California artists sought to render the landscape that inspired them. While Staprans’s subjects are recognizable, he sees himself more as an abstract painter, saying “I don’t want a picture, I want a painting.”

“In all of his work, assertive brushwork and traces of revisions are present, thus reminding us that his realities are purely paint on canvas, and his subjects are formal elements in his process,” said Jessica Yee, curatorial associate at SJMA and curator of SJMA’s presentation of the exhibition.

The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive, full-color catalogue with essays by Paul J. Karlstrom, art historian and former West Coast regional director of the Smithsonian Archives of American Art; David Pagel, art critic for the Los Angeles Times and chair of the Art Department at Claremont Graduate University, California; Nancy Princenthal, writer and art critic; Ed Schad, associate curator at The Broad, Los Angeles; John Yau, art critic and poet; and Scott A. Shields, associate director and chief curator at the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California.

Paintings by Raimonds Staprans continues the San José Museum of Art’s longstanding dedication to Northern Californian artists: highlights include exhibitions Frank Lobdell: Wonderland (2012), Wayne Thiebaud: Seventy Years of Painting (2010) and Diebenkorn in New Mexico: 19501952(2007).


SJMA plans an array of public programs in connection with Paintings by Raimonds Stapransincluding a Creative Minds lecture with David Pagel, Los Angeles Times art critic and catalogue contributor, on Wednesday, January 312018, at 7 PM, followed by an opening reception. Staprans will be the Lunchtime Lecture speaker at SJMA on Wednesday, March 7, 2018, at 12 PM. Yee will give a gallery talk in the exhibition on Thursday, March 22, 2018, at 12:30 PM. On Saturday, April 21, 2018, 1 – 4 PM, the Museum’s popular workshop series Art 101 will offer a lesson in still-life painting inspired by Staprans’s work. Details and tickets to these and other public programs is available online at


Raimonds Staprans immigrated with his family to the United States in 1947 after fleeing Latvia during the Soviet invasion. He studied art at the University of Washington under Alexander Archipenko and Mark Tobey and earned a bachelor’s degree in art with a minor in drama in 1952. He then attended graduate art school at the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied under Hans Hoffman, and earned a master’s degree in 1954. His work is held in the permanent collections of the San José Museum of Art; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Oakland Museum of California; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Santa Barbara Museum of Art, among others. Staprans was the subject of a career retrospective that opened at the Pasadena Museum of Contemporary Art in March 2006 and traveled to the State Museum in Riga, Latvia. He is also an accomplished playwright, whose writing explores the tension between fact and fiction set against his Latvian homeland’s twentieth-century history. In 2003, Staprans was awarded Latvia’s highest civilian honor, the Three Star Medal. He currently resides in the Potrero Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, where he has lived and worked for the past six decades.

Paintings by Raimonds Staprans is sponsored by the Myra Reinhard Family Foundation and Deedee and Burton McMurtry



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