TOP PICKS IN ESTONIA
melanie bonajo comes to Tallinn with an immersive show
When the Body Says Yes+
Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn
10 November 2023 – 28 April 2024
When the body says Yes+ is a solo exhibition by the Dutch artist melanie bonajo (they/them/their), searching for an answer to the question of whether there is still a place for intimacy in our increasingly commercialised and technological world. For bonajo, touch can be a powerful remedy for the modern loneliness epidemic. Their work When the body says Yes represented the Netherlands at the Venice Biennale in 2022 and is now touring European museums. In addition to the immersive and sensitive biennale project, the exhibition includes three previous videos to introduce their practice in greater depth. In collaboration with the artist, Théo Demans has created a sensory and playful spatial scenography, through which the worlds created in the videos are transferred to the exhibition space.
Duo show by Neeme Külm and Alice Kask
Tartu Art House, Tartu
17 November – 17 December
In Tartu, notable Estonian artists Alice Kask and Neeme Külm have opened their show Something Righter in This in the large gallery at the Art House. Neeme Külm, known for his bold spatial interventions, sows wedges into the walls, replaces the alarm button with pearls and fills an archaic confessional with texts from his journal. Alice Kask focuses on her paintings of a lone figure, a single item, but full of tension and on a grand scale. Ruthlessly precise in what she is trying to show, and straightforward in concealing what deserves to be hidden. The exhibition is open until 17 December.
The Laugh of the Medusa
27 October – 17 December
The international group exhibition The Laugh of the Medusa focuses on the socio-cultural conditions of women, more specifically, how women experience their bodies and sexuality in a patriarchal world. The aim of the exhibition is to offer alternatives to the image of women pervasive in the media and share what women see through their eyes – what limits them, what they desire and what appeals to their gaze. The exhibition is curated by Maria Helen Känd.
The Art of Adapting
Kadriorg Art Museum, Tallinn
15 September 2023 – 3 March 2024
Set in the baroque palace that accommodates the museum, the exhibition shifts the borders between humanity and the natural environment: contemporary artists and works from the collections of the Art Museum of Estonia provoke discussions on biodiversity, variability, co-species, dependency relationships, eco-anxiety and sustainability. What was the natural environment like in previous centuries, how have artists approached the environment, and how has this approach altered under the changing environmental conditions? The exhibition is curated by Madli Ehasalu and Triin Metsla.
Exceptional Baltic women artists in Kumu
Unframed: Leis, Tabaka, Rožanskaitė
Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn
29 September 2023 – 25 February 2024
The exhibition focuses on the works of three Baltic women artists: Malle Leis (1940–2017), Maija Tabaka (1939) and Marija Teresė Rožanskaitė (1933–2007). All three were exceptional artists in Soviet-occupied Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The education they received from art institutes in the 1950s and 1960s was similar in terms of its ideological and aesthetic principles, but soon they all moved beyond those principles – not necessarily by directly opposing their current art discourses, but by navigating them in ways that shifted and blurred the meanings of seemingly straightforward motifs and gestures. The show is part of Kumu’s research and exhibition programme on Baltic regional art history, which aims to break out of national frameworks and find interconnections between the art histories of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It also continues the museum’s initiative of highlighting women artists from all historical periods. The curators are Anu Allas and Laima Kreivytė.
Magic is sometimes very close to nothing at all
Tallinn Art Hall, Lasnamäe Pavilion, Tallinn
9 December 2023 – 25 February 2024
The first major solo show by Estonian artist Hanna Samoson at Tallinn Art Hall takes visitors on a journey with fellow invited artists that conditionally reflects the year in her life before the exhibition. Samoson explores the boundaries of art and tries to perceive the unknown. Being in constant motion as an intuitive creator, her work is characterised by quick and spontaneous decisions. In autumn 2020, she walked the future route of the upcoming railway route Rail Baltic from Ikla to Tallinn as an endurance art performance. Curator of the show is Siim Preiman.
At Arm’s Length by Anna Škodenko explores the impossibilities
Tallinn City Gallery, Tallinn
10 November 2023 – 21 January 2024
Anna Škodenko’s solo exhibition depicts fragments and layers of reality, the complex and scattered nature of the surrounding world, where the whole falls out of hand, and it seems impossible to grasp anything. However, this fascinating painting exhibition serves as a confirmation that what is impossible in life becomes possible in art. The curator of the exhibition is Tamara Luuk.
Jaan Toomik’s solo show Forest Turn
Temnikova & Kasela Gallery, Tallinn
10 November 2023 – 21 January 2024
Forest Turn highlights new works by one of Estonia’s foremost artists, Jaan Toomik, and presents selected paintings and sculptures from his creative work over the past year. During a year of solitude in the forests of western Estonia, the artist contemplated his perceptions and emotions, continuing his exploration of existential questions. He drew inspiration from the profound silence and tranquillity of the forest to alter his cognitive perspective and question life’s fundamental themes. A product of this experience, Toomik’s paintings present a clear and straightforward narrative and ultimately convey a sense of realism while still preserving the distortions and disfigurations characteristic of his style.
Contemporary art from Ukraine in a Latvian coastal town
A Brief History of Tension, Resistance, and Love
Art Station Dubulti, Jūrmala
27 October 2023 – 14 January 2024
The Ukrainian Museum of Contemporary Art (UMCA) presents its first international project in Latvia, at Art Station Dubulti, Jūrmala, telling the story of the warnings nobody wanted to see, decisions everybody had to make, and precious moments of care and connection someone can experience during the darkest times. Crafted by curatorial duo, Tetiana Lysun and Anna-Mariia Kucherenko, the exhibition includes more than thirty works by 22 artists and artist collectives in various media: painting, graphics, photography, video and mixed media objects created during the decade from 2010 to 2023, just before and during the brutal war started by the Russian Federation against Ukraine.
Pakui Hardware’s solo show in Vilnius after a long break
Pakui Hardware. Inflammation
Museum of Applied Arts and Design, Vilnius
27 October 2023 – 11 February 2024
The new large-scale exhibition by Pakui Hardware speaks of the fevers of humanity and the world, of the “flaming” bodies of the planet and of our own. Preparing a solo exhibition in Lithuania after a long break, the Pakui Hardware collective will represent Lithuania at the International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia 2024 together with Marija Teresė Rožanskaitė (1933–2007). This exhibition is an introduction to the future pavilion.
Baltic and international artists in Fragile Balance
Atletika gallery, Vilnius
9 November – 16 December
A group exhibition Fragile Balance at Atletika gallery, Vilnius, features the works of artists Hedi Jaansoo, Nokukhanya Langa, Anna Mari Liivrand, Emma Luukkala, Mari Männa, Laurynas Skeisgiela and Mark Soosaar, curated by Kaisa Maasik. Seemingly effortless, practicing fragility demands conviction. Balancing between two states – gentleness on the one side, being tough on the other – is key as it affects the final form and outcome. The fragility of the material and the process connects to the person and their vulnerability and invincibility as a human.
Breathing Through the Eyes in Paris
7 November – 22 December
The exhibition gathers different generations of artists from the Baltic countries, most of them presenting their work in Paris for the first time. The exhibition touches subtly on the ideas of Lithuanian-American archaeologist and anthropologist Marija Gimbutas, whose profound research brought attention to the ancient cultures of the Baltic region and the broader Indo-European world. The exhibition takes its inspiration from Gimbutas’ ideas which have influenced contemporary perspectives on heritage, indigenous identities, and the relationship between humans and nature in the Baltic Sea area. The artists participating are Aili Vint, Daria Melnikova, Kristel Saan, Kristina Õllek, Monika Varšavskaja, Morta Jonynaitė and Viktorija Daniliauskaitė. The show is curated by Merilin Talumaa.
Baltic artists draw an imaginative atlas of the current world
Arka Gallery, Vilnius
20 October – 17 December
Emotional Landscapes is an attempt to draw an imaginative atlas of the world today, examining the landscape we both see and feel right now. It is a canvas on which artists invited from across the Baltics reveal their own emotionally and personally felt landscapes. It is a cliché to say that Baltic people have a strong emotional bond with nature, but this cliche has some truth to it. This bond is so deeply encoded in our identity that even the national awakenings during the Soviet occupation seemed to first emerge from the environmental movement. The exhibition is curated by Šelda Puķīte.