Ligsma Kirpe artist

Artist in colour

ligsma sigurds kalnins
Ligsma Kirpe, Sigurds Kalnins, 1950s

Rudolf Steiner spoke of painting as ‘the art of colour’, an art which ‘can only be understood properly by taking into account the realm of the soul…my soul must live with the colour. I must rejoice with yellow, feel the seriousness and dignity of red; I must share with blue its soft, tearful mood. I must spiritualize the colour if I am to transform it into inner capacities. Without such a spiritual understanding I ought not to paint.’

Ligsma Kirpe was an artist who sought such spiritual understanding. Born in Latvia in 1920, Ligsma pursued a rigorous classical training at the Academy of Art in Riga from 1939 to 1944. Following bleak years as a refugee from Russian occupation and as a displaced person in war-torn Germany, she arrived in Melbourne in 1949 with her brother and Sigurds Kalnins, a fellow artist and her husband. Ligsma needed to completely re-establish her life.

It was not until the early 1960s when Ligsma was in her forties that she began to work with colour once again. From this time, she created early studies—sketches and works in pastel, many of which had been stowed away for some fifty years when she died in 2013. Then came a further flowering of her artistic talent with the discovery of anthroposophy in 1967. She developed a passionate commitment to work in watercolour and began to teach creative studies with a special emphasis on the art of colour.

Ligsma only ever spoke briefly about colour. ‘Colour is feeling,’ she would say. In all her paintings Ligsma performed the alchemy of transmuting colour into a precious mood of soul: from the simplest of still life pastels, through the tender and vibrant depictions of flowers in vases or in nature, to the lustrous watercolour explorations of the realms of air and earth and fire. Each painting speaks directly to our feeling life, evoking a response to the beauty of what weaves between light and dark in the realm of colour.

Many of Ligsma’s artworks are held in private collections following an exhibition in 2016. Some original artworks are still for sale. Prints are also available.  Cards are for sale at Epoche in Kallista, Victoria and other outlets.

A small sample of Ligsma’s artwork is shown on this page. Most of Ligsma’s works are untitled except for later works (marked with an asterisk*) which had titles typed in her characteristic italics. These titled artworks were probably used by Ligsma in her Creative Studies classes offered during the 1980s at Gatehouse Street, Parkville. The other titles we have given refer to the subject of the painting or colour exercise.

Ligsma’s early artwork


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 Ligsma’s later artwork


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