Already looking forward to a happy reunion, we will play one last round in our good old Art Hall building before its renovation! All participating artists and exhibition visitors are welcome to join in the play where there are no losers.
Vana-Kalamaja 46 in Tallinn houses a commune for life artists and a small art gallery called Metropol 6m2. This community of friends who don’t care about comfortable living or social conventions, with their lifestyle probably unacceptable to many, is one of the few collectives in contemporary Estonian art and society that has created its own rules. With its unambitious dwellers who cherish anarchist freedom, it is like a younger brother of the Non Grata, Kursi or Vedelik artist groups, which has endured an astonishingly long time, especially considering Tallinn’s war-machine-like art scene characterised by ambitions and high aspirations. A member of this community, Taave Tuutma likes to believe that his “traffic signs” have emerged from semiotic interpretations. They probably have. However, without playfulness and ingenuity none of these signs would have been born.
“Play is the work of little people”, a singer sings, although he has grown quite a bit himself. Silja Saarepuu and Villu Plink like to identify with their little people and do not hesitate to join them, sometimes acting like the villagers from a popular Estonian children’s book, Kilplased1Eno Raud. The Gothamites (translated into English by Adam Cullen). Elsewhere Editions, 2019., at other times like monumentalists. Besides their installation with the little people, Silja and Villu also display a video work, Ego 157, which invites us to really step inside the exhibition: “Hey! Both blue and white collar workers need playful relaxation rituals, like we all do!”
Having a child means dedicating a large part of your life to them. And, if you happen to be an artist, your child sneaks into your creation in every possible way: entrusting their fantasies to you as a co-creator (like in the work by Edith and Nikolai, Kolja, which was initially planned as a collaboration, but was eventually realised by the artist mother capturing his son), or sublimating your own tenderness and care, like Jass Kaselaan does in his piece, Ilja.
The sculptures by Edith Karlson and Jass Kaselaan, dedicated to their respective sons, will help us greet all the Kolyas and Ilyas,2In reference to the predominantly Russian-speaking audience in Lasnamäe. whom we hope to become friends with in Lasnamäe!
“A beautiful, lifelong play”, we could say about Kaarel Kurismaa’s creative and life path. His machines and gadgets, monuments and paintings, stories and animations decorate his years like milestones without any stains or resentment. The work Still-Life completed for this exhibition consists of pure and minimalist black and white forms – lines of an ideal landscape converging in the distance.
At first glance it seems difficult to find a more serious maker in Estonian art than Art Allmägi. Yet the settings into which he pushes his artworks with this rare seriousness are full of twists and playful metaphors. “It is important for me to relate to, and play with the viewer,” Art tells Gregor Taul,3See: http://gregortaul.ee/articlesinest/moned-loigud-art-allmaest-ja-noorest-eesti-skulptuurist when talking about his highly realistic installations that speak of players of war and power, art or biblical history.
Usually combining textile and ceramics with her slender manicured fingers covered in clay, Kris Lemsalu’s works are self-portraits in one way or another. Constantly on the move, either in her mind or in real life, a seeker and finder of adventures and friends, she rejoices in a world of images which she arranges into dynamic, contradictory constellations. You couldn’t function and create like this without feeling the magic of play. Therefore, Kris is also a skilfully combining master player.
The play with abstract shapes should be familiar to all of us: why else would we scribble on notebook sheets while on the phone? See and enjoy how convincingly the abstract paintings by Kaido Ole drain and polish the colours and scatter various shapes! He started his professional journey with these as a young man, and has now returned to them as a mature artist.
There is strong, intense playfulness in Robin Nõgisto’s imagination. Yet the abundance of details in his works also gives them a wide scope. “In the evening, when the sun goes down, people begin to romanticise the dimensions of life. In the morning, the blue sky simply looks like a blue sky, even though there is the vastness of space beyond it,” Robin says. “I hope to find this human aspect somewhere in the big universe.”4See: https://kunstiveeb.sadolin.ee/preemia/robin-nogisto-2/#video Once it is acknowledged, such an endeavour is also reflected in the paintings donning his hopscotch rectangles and seesaw plank.
“A play with everyday forms, letters and body shapes as signs that create images” is probably how you could describe the work by Raul Meel, a creator unspoiled by traditional teachings and approaches in art. Relying on the inventiveness, diligence and volume of his work, he can easily define his art as a prerequisite for “play, beauty and eternal life”.
Camille Laurelli, who holds a doctoral degree, is fascinated with “failed” artists who value humour, as well as works of undeniable originality full of references, cooperation and collaboration. His activities are easier to enjoy than analyse.5We will hijack Claire Bishop’s description for Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s work (Suddenly This Overview at Guggenheim in 2016), and also use it for Camille Laurelli who is influcenced by them. Suits nicely. – See: https://www.artforum.com/print/reviews/201604/peter-fischli-and-david-weiss-58717
“I didn’t have a CV and I didn’t go to exhibition openings or try to sell myself, so I only had an institution I had created myself, one in which I could play by my own rules,” says Camille, who together with Andrejs Rusinovskis founded the popular interactive video game museum LVLup! at Akadeemia tee 28 in Tallinn. “I play with the idea of modern folklore; at the same time, I know that this concept can mean very different things,” adds Camille.6See: https://idaidaida.net/et/jarelkuulamine/vitamiin-k-2020-09-11
No one has reason to doubt the sensitive eye of the masterful photographer and video artist Mark Raidpere, or the painter’s talent of Alice Kask. Mark’s bitterly demanding, yet empathetic gaze and Alice’s light hand, which her mind stubbornly opposes, create tense atmospheres in their works. Even though they are wholly earnest separately, combined they become participants in the play of hiding and finding.
In the work by August Künnapu it is difficult to distinguish between life and art, play and real life. “On the other hand (luckily!), it is namely the playful joy of life together with colour virtuosity and naivety that makes August Künnapu’s work genuine and original. There are more than a dozen painters with metaphysical gravity in Estonia, but only a few like August Künnapu with his singular brush-writing”. – Mehis Heinsaar7Mehis Heinsaar. August Künnapu in the brave new world. August Künnapu (epifanio.eu)
When a talented child of famous parents begins to make jumping jacks, she seems to have tired of her talents and turned to the innocent joys of childhood. Maria-Kristiina Ulas, a young and virtuosic painter who boldly touches on sexual fantasies, has become a woman who enjoys pure play, refuses to grow up irreversibly and knows how to tame fairy-tale creatures.
You can also play with the rhythm of your heartbeat and emotions, like Marko Mäetamm does. This time, balancing between everyday passions, fake fantasies and seriousness, he has ripped his shirt open … to find underneath a gentle, yearning and a little fearful red heart of a lion, an awesome animal of love.
We often gladly forgive the inventors and storytellers, Neeme Külm and Dénes Farkas for not knowing what they are doing, because they do it so charmingly, feeding the dull practical mind with insane fabrications, playing with emotions, knowledge and history, and redeeming themselves with impeccable craftsmanship.
As you can see, there are no works in this exhibition that are not related to play. However, there are definitely no evil games here! This is where we will leave you for a little while; please keep on playing! We’ll be back shortly.