SUBURBAN TOTEMS. Pārdaugava district and its distinctive street artist.

Whenever you find yourself physically distancing around the west bank of the Daugava river called Pārdaugava, there is a big chance to find many interesting street art totems. Appearing since 10 years ago, the distinctive examples of street art appeared mostly on this side of Riga and annoying some, they appealed to most who looked at Pārdaugava as the new creative part of the city. Time flies, only a handful of drawings are still in place, yet the question stands - who's behind the distinctive and refreshing urban totems? And why?

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The author of the totems, usually drawn on ugly or irrelevant elements of the city, is Mārtiņš Aizpurvs. A young artist, once calling himself Arbor, but now going under a Denzo nickname. His art story launches in early childhood when, growing up as a native West Banker, he began to take interest in various cultures and lifestyles of people around the world. The most captivating stories were those about the Native Americans and their way of life, relationship, views on interaction between humans and nature. Most of the topics were related to philosophical themes, observing animal abilities and their differences.

Things leveled-up when Mārtiņš came across the works by Native American sculptors - totems; he was astonished by their simplicity in forms and colours. Around 2010, then calling himself Arbor, Mārtiņš was already aware of street art and graffiti and found it important to tell the story of human connection with nature the Native American way, and its necessity in urban environment. He would quit the art school at his final-year back then and start practicing at a nearby hovel.
"I began sketching totems and animals immediately, trying to streamline their forms down to perfection. The result you see today has taken years to create, but, by developing my skill and style in drawing, I finally came down to ways I can always illustrate every story I want. Now totems have become my trademark and signature, something I always put on my works or products unrelated to urban art."
We noticed Mārtiņš' work around 2015 and have showcased his story on our Āgenskalns Suburban Tour since (it was officially launched in 2016). As Denzo admits himself, the peak time of drawing totems was right before - from 2014 until 2015. Soon after, a little encounter with the police would follow that would put him on pause, but also would allow to graduate the art school.

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Few of Denzo's characters.

After taking two years break from drawing in the streets, Mārtiņš would change his nickname from Arbor to Denzo and would return back to town again, now spreading his works across the whole city. Yet his distinctive totems still represent the West Bank or Pārdaugava, and still keep the same narrative of human and nature symbiosis.

For this article, Denzo has provided us with a subjective list of his most significant works, and we have but them on a map. Whenever you feel like having a stroll around Pārdaugava - don't hesitate and add a little mission and try visiting the works. NB. Keep in mind that street art is very fluid - some addresses might not represent Denzo's work any more soon. For any new stuff, find Mārtiņš on his Instagram.