Dzemma Skulme works in oil, acrylic and watercolour technique, mostly a la prima. Since 1970’s she has developed the theme of caryatid, where she reveals the ethical and spiritual strength of a woman. She has turned also to rifleman theme and accentuated the love of a fatherland. In the painting of the second half of 1960’s her worldview became more dramatic and she has raised the expressiveness of her work by using large brush or even palette knife for colour application.
Dzemma Skulme has graduated with honours the Monumental painting class of Art Academy of Latvia (1949, diploma work “The Song festival”, led by Oto Skulme). Colour and contrast were dominating means of artist’s expression during study years. Later monumentality became important too.
In 1956 she completed postgraduate studies at Ilya Repin Leningrad Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, by acquiring scientific degree of Candidate of Fine Arts for the painting “Peoples Festival”. In the middle of 1950’s she became recognised also for her book and magazine illustrations.
Art historian Laima Slava is accentuating the line as the discovery of 1960’s in Skulme’s creative work: “At first it is smooth and constructive and defines the shape of a character, then it becomes lighter and more transparent.”
During 1960’s artist turns to author technique – combination of acrylic and oil colour thus creating interesting textures. Her painting during his time has become more conceptual. Later, in 1980’s Dzemma Skulme describes her art as follows: “I have to live in the world where I am destined to be. And it is, as I were saying, the plane, which is organized by dimensional fragments. It is self-created space. However, it is completely resulting from the impulse of a nature. I am using fragments of nature and bring them so close that they became constructions which are only slightly working with spatial depth. I never make the second or third picture plane in figurative compositions. It is my intuitive, natural way of spatial organisation.”
During latest decades artist is using naive stylistics of children drawings to create vivid and painterly virtuoso artworks. Dzemma Skulme has worked as assistant decorator in Daile Theatre and Latvia Puppet Theatre (1945–1947). She participates in exhibitions since 1949 and is a member of the Artists’ Union of Latvia since 1956 (since 1977 in a managerial position). In 1976 she received the title of People’s Artist of the Latvian SSR.
Ņefedova I. Skulme, Džemma // Māksla un arhitektūra biogrāfijās, III / Atb. red. A. Vanaga. R.: A/S Preses nams, 2000, 61–63. lpp
Slava L. Es domāju krāsās // Džemma Skulme / Sast. L. Slava. – Rīga: Neputns, 2015