However about myself I can tell a lot, I will use an article from a magazine „Patiesa Dzive” (True Life)
Artworks of a happy man
After a severe spinal cord injury, Maris Dzelzskalns became partially paralyzed and now is forced to use a wheelchair. The life may have shattered the man physically, thus, his inner strength is what matters. Maris has found his true happiness and accomplishment in painting. If you see flourishing poppies on canvas, thousands of blossoming poppies in red and mandarin shades, meadows of these beautiful flowers -the author of these artworks most probably is Maris Dzelzskalns.
When one door closes
Maris and his family live in Adazi in a new apartment block. A meadow, a small forest, and a lake can be seen in front of their apartment. A small inclined, paved trackway leads to Dzelzskaln’s family apartment on the first floor. A handsome, middle-aged man opens the front French door. While talking with Maris, initially, you do not even notice that he has a disability and he uses a wheelchair that helps him to move around properly because foremost he is a husband, a father, and an artist. Only the discourse of the talk reveals all the sufferings and difficulties that this man has been through. Adoption to the new circumstances, self-acceptance, search for the new core of life and motivation has not been easy.
Some ten years ago, Maris was as distant from painting as distant Mars is from Earth. In 1994, at the age of 21 he entered Fire Safety and Civil Protection College, later continued his studies at the Academy of the State Fire Service in Moscow, where he obtained a degree in fire engineering. Ten years more, he worked at State Fire and Rescue Service. Then, the car accident followed, in which Maris seriously injured his spine.
He not only accepts the difficulties and the circumstances of the fate with no complains, but also converts these circumstances into possibilities. The saying “When one door closes, another door opens” defines Maris. Being disabled, he started working at the Ministry of Welfare, where he accounted for equal rights for people with disabilities, led the TV programme “Together”, was the member and the clerk of the National Council for Disabled People in 2010, and the deputy of the Latvian Parliament.
The troop of art admirers
“Here is my workshop, the kitchen and the living room”, says Maris. His living room has been rebuilt to suit his needs. Slightly laughing he adds that he has put on some weight because the illness does not allow to train the abdomen. Even though he has a serious therapy course to go through quite soon, he never complains, not even with the pitch of his voice, thus, he jokes all the way long about himself, aliments, life. His humour serves as a shield troubles cannot get through. First of all, he is a man who builds his career, cares about his family and thinks in perspective. This defines the strength of his character, in contradiction to so many men who do walk, but are weak and have no will.
The true abilities of a person are truly revealed in critical, most crucial situations, considers Maris. The scratch on the easel, thousands of daubs, the aroma of the paint, the adrenalin and a creative victory - this is how Maris’ artistic work can be described. He daubs quickly with passion and joy. He posts the pictures of his artworks on a Latvian website draugiem.lv, where among sixteen thousand friends he already has a wide troop of people who admire his artworks. Maris answers to several letters per day and with modesty accepts custom works. Charming female admirers often ask whether he is single, then, he has to answer that he has a wife and three children.
There are practically no artworks in Dzelzkalns’ household. Some that can be seen on the walls are already sold out. Just painted, the artworks travel to their new owners. I look at Maris’ artworks and wonder, why do these are so loved among the government officials as much as among the sophisticated art critics? The artworks address young gentlemen as much as the old ladies who are keen of cat photos and crocheted blankets. Half of the artworks are sent abroad to European countries, to the United States of America, Canada, Australia, Russia, etc. Maris’ artworks are also very appreciated among those Latvians who live abroad. The broad, generous, colourful daubs tell a story of an endless and passionate will of life and never ending hope that feels so known to every person without the consideration of intellect, education, and social class.
Well, the story of those flowers...
Maris started learning painting since childhood, but did not develop his talent because it was hard to purchase the paints in a countryside and they were expensive. Eight years ago, he started to paint again. He managed nothing good at the beginning, but truly enjoyed playing with colours and images. Painting was a way of having a rest, mental purification, an endlessly beautiful journey throughout the mentally created flower world.
“I paint each day,” he says. Discipline, regularity and hard work are the key elements of an achievement. “If you do something each day, with time, you improve your skills in it,” says Maris explaining his success.
He objects, when someone turns to his achievements, or calls him an artist. “I really realize that I am not a professional in this sphere. I paint in a very light manner, with a nice sense. If someone likes it, well, that is nice! People come, look at the paintings, are amazed and later purchase them. What more could one wish for?”
“Well, the story of those flowers...”, he thoughtfully adds. Blossoming lilac flowers spindle towards the bright sun light. Colourful field of red poppies reaches out towards the horizon, the foregrounds of the white water lilies in the blue water are so vivid that one can almost touch them. The scenes amaze. The flowers are the main actresses on Maris’ easel stage. His artworks are easy to perceive, they are unpretentious, just like a lyrical poem, with its own rhythm and repercussion. Incredibly beautiful with no imperfection, even unrighteous in comparison with the deficient background of everyday life.
“That Christmas scenery is exaggerated,” Maris shows two paintings where houses drowned in show. Such colours do not exist in nature, but I really desired for something like it. “People want something simple and beautiful.” Maris used to participate in exhibitions. “They still invite me to exhibitions, but now I cannot afford myself to travel around as much. When someone orders a painting, he does not want to wait.” He either does not hide that he earns money with painting and it disarms.
“Recently, I have received a call from the National Rehabilitation Center “Vaivari”, they called and asked for my paintings, promising that the first lady will see them. That amused me because the President has already two of my paintings at his home. When Raimonds Vejonis was the Minister of Defence, he bought some of my paintings,” says Maris. When I mention that it is a nice benefit for working in the political sphere, he almost offends at me.
Getting the adrenalin while painting
Deep in his heart of hearts Maris still is a firefighter. When in the year 2000 the explosion in the Shopping Mall “Centrs” occurred, Maris was the head of the rescue affairs, that is why, it is no wonder that he followed the rescue affairs, during the collapse of Maxima shopping center. Maris points out that the elementary norms of the fire safety still are not respected in the shopping malls, those of width of aisles between the shelves, for instance. “If something would happen, I would not be able to get out at all,” says Maris. “Those who are easier to save are the first, then, the rest. That is how it functions. Even in an airplane they always offer me the first, or the last seat near the window.”
Maris thinks that the salary of a firefighter still is unrighteously low, unlike the requirements. “Firefighters train each day, supplementing their skills and knowledge because they have to be ready for anything. There are teams that save people on water, dive into the freezing waters. It’s the time of peace, but people do die...” Does Maris miss the adrenalin that he had while working as a firefighter? He does not, he is able to get it while painting. “I need the velocity, need to see the result”.
Maris points out that he is able to look at his artworks from aside, from a distance. “After a while, I look at the painting which I did not like and think that there is something about it, yet Maris’ artworks are not only romantic and furry. He paints in an abstract manner as well, using white and grey shades. “When a person comes, I instantly understand what kind of a painting will he purchase. We went to a shop recently, to buy a bow tie for my son. The shop assistant looked at us, and unexpectedly said: “I have your painting at home.” That feels pleasant,” adds Maris.
“True Life” (“Privātā Dzīve”) – magazine - 2015