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Regard sur l'Estonie

Exhibition  /  08 Jun 2007  -  29 Aug 2007
Published: 19.07.2007
Solidor Art Space
Management:
M. Roland Constant
Kadri Mälk. Pendant: Night flight with dark conscience. Silver, gold, gems. Kadri, MälkPendant: Night flight with dark conscienceSilver, gold, gems. Kadri Mälk
Pendant: Night flight with dark conscience
Silver, gold, gems


Kadri, Mälk
Pendant: Night flight with dark conscience
Silver, gold, gems

© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.

Intro
The artists attending the exhibition “Regard sur l’Estonie” are connected more by their courage, the autonomy in their work than the form of artistic representation.

Artist list

Piret Hirv, Kadri Mälk, Tanel Veenre
Artistic creation begins among other things in the subconscious, where images and symbols of a community emerge and the gateway to a culture is opened. Jewellery has been a cultural artefact since the dawn of mankind; even in the present-day global world, it remains important evidence of a culture. Jewellery art as the form of expression of a culture is an invitation to be concerned with both.

A brief look back at the history of Estonia is intended to give us a greater understanding of the country.
Already back in the third millennium before Christ, Finno-Ugric tribes settled in northern Europe. The country is separated from their nearest relations, the Finns, by the 85 km wide Gulf of Finland. The development of Estonian culture had to fight against the most unfavourable conditions in the course of the centuries. In the high Middle Ages, Estonia came under the control of the Teutonic Order, and the German-speaking population class was influential until the Second World War, until Hitler brought them “back home into the German Reich”. Many originally Estonian families also moved up into this class, from which the ruling knighthood, the merchant guilds of the cities and the academic professions were recruited. From the 18th century to the First World War, Estonia came under the control of the Russian Empire. Only after the Russian Revolution did the Republic of Estonia 1918 struggle for its first independence. In 1940, Estonia was compulsorily incorporated into the Soviet Union and after the German occupation in 1944 integrated into the Soviet system against the will of the population. The massive immigration of Russian-speaking settlers was part of the policy of Russification. The great music tradition, thanks to which Estonia is even today described as the “Singing Country”, was already back then a symbol of national identity in order to defend itself against the Russian ascendancy. Even the growing drive for independence since 1989 was referred to as the “Singing Revolution”. In 1991, Estonia became independent and in 2004 a member of the European Union. The country today finds itself in a stage of development, which also applies to art. The new dynamic society, which is not yet set in concrete, promotes the creative forces. Much is possible, yet the goal always remains the same – to preserve its own identity. “Import” is dangerous, assert the artists, growth must come from inside, from the roots.


Estonia is the most northerly and smallest of the three Baltic States. It is an interface between East and West. More than 70 islands, many lakes, swamps and moors, not least the long-lasting twilight mould the country and the Estonians themselves. The Estonian writer Viivi Luik describes to us this phenomenon strikingly: “Unlike almost any other European country, practically the entire territory of Estonia remains, from late April until mid August, in the zone of the so-called astronomical twilight that is no wider than a few hundred kilometres. In our daily life it means that it is no longer light after sunset, but darkness will not fall for some time either. Such a phenomenon is not known outside the zone of astronomical twilight. Our spiritual life must thus also have something that other nations without the knowledge of twilight do not possess. Maybe the main qualities and destinies of nations in fact derive only from the ratio of light and shadow in the surrounding landscape.” 1
“There are many magnificent places in the world,” says Kadri Mälk, “but the most important place for me is Estonia, because it is so special here: the coasts, the woods, the animals, [...], the very great differences between summer and winter, long dark days with snow, but most important for me is the metaphysical atmosphere that I experience.”2 Twilight, an “impression” as Claude Monet called it, is an essential characteristic feature of magic, wizardry, “..in the twilight, the spectres appear” 3. “Mysticism”, to quote Goethe again, “hints at the secrets of nature and reason and attempts to resolve them through word and image.”4 Through what images do the Estonian jewellery artists want to resolve them?

The foundation of the so-called “Estonian School” was put in contact with the great artist and professor at the Art Academy in Tallinn, Leili Kuldkepp. She called the teaching method “emotional education”, which demands mutual trust and devotedness. “Through mythology, literature and a knowledge of her roots, the requisite depictiveness and innovativeness in jewellery was achieved.” 5
“Kuldkepp’s teaching could be summarized as a sacred ritual, an intensive initiation rite sui generis, which made novitiates into visionaries with regard to the world of ideas.” 6

Golden touch
Trying to understand the Teacher

Every person is touched by a message
Spirit qualities are yours to share
Human attitudes and thoughts about things
Are yours to share
When you give them to those who follow you
What they embody does not degrade
It is enriched by the spirit qualities of many
The artist has a connection to the universe

Leili Kuldkepp 7


Love of spirituality, tradition, one’s own mythology, the Finno-Ugric roots, coupled with an unwillingness to compromise in one’s work, characterize the “Estonian School”. There was and still is today a close relationship between the students of the jewellery class and the museums as well as the archaeological institutions. Through this, a “study of one’s roots” is possible in order to know from where one has come and where one wants to go to. In comparison with other European countries, this goal is not so explicitly stated anywhere else. In my opinion, the artists here manage to transform their own continuity into the global Zeitgeist.
Professor Kadri Mälk, a former student of Professor Kuldkepp and since 1995 head of the Department of Jewellery and Metalwork at the Academy of Fine Arts in Tallinn 8, challenges this process of continuity, because tradition is a kind of necessity in the myth. In the course of time, however, the myth is constantly filled with new content. Tradition is a continuous renewal, never a dead archetype. “Life is really a dark room, and the shadows are the queens of the colour. We are referred to this dark room by subconscious decisions, by stars, by friends, by lovers and possibly also by the jewellery. Items of jewellery hold much information: they contain personal perception of the world, combinations of images and materials.” 9 The mental significance of the jewellery points to almost archaic roots in the Estonian artists. Jewellery, according to Kadri Mälk, could help people be of service to it, such as prayers, singing or dance originally did. Its topic is namely the most fragile thing that there is – the human being, it reaches the human psyche. If jewellery manages to have the same impact on the observer as a thunderbolt, to influence him or her on the physical level, it has then fulfilled its function.10
According to the words of the art expert Heie Treier, Estonian art has withdrawn into itself and into silence. The view appears to prevail here that the full power lies particularly in the small, nature-oriented, intelligent items of jewellery.
In the Triennale Européenne du bijou contemporain 11 catalogue, we can read about Estonian jewellery : “A few years ago, Tamara Luuk told me of the tribulations she encountered during a talk with one of the figureheads of an artistic organisation in Belgium. They were discussing Estonian art. The man observed that the artists from there often focused on eternity and wondered why this was. Tamara replied: “To reach Estonia, a letter from Europe takes two weeks. If the letter referred to current events, the events would no longer be current. Our country is so far away that we can only focus on the eternal. […]
Today, the same letter can reach its addressee in a second. Yet Estonian artists are still dealing with eternal themes. So it may be that the problem has nothing to do with the postal services.

Actually, we are polar bears. We know nothing of time and numbers. But we do know of something else. We know how to appreciate the silence and sounds that emerge from them. We can bear with the length of the twilight time and this gives our imagination wings. We know full well that the sun is but a black mass – its rays are what makes it light.”

We artists, lecturing and invited guests from the all over the world, have been able to sample the magic of this world during the great exhibition and the night colloquy “Nocturnus“12 . “The idea of Nocturnus simmered in darkness […]. Passionate deliberations ensued – what is intimate is often strange. Avoiding direct speech, beating about the bush, even more – leaving things unsaid – this could perhaps describe our intuitive nocturnal perception of images. […] Night contains various things: fragility, roughness and unattainable, unconsciously performed activity…”


The artists attending the exhibition “Regard sur l’Estonie” are connected more by their courage, the autonomy in their work than the form of artistic representation. Kadri Mälk’s works are metaphysical, Piret Hirv’s are figurative and Tanel Veenre’s works are nature-oriented. Jewellery for these artists is an existential artistic statement, far removed from fashionable currents and speculative ornamentation. Their credo is: jewellery must be simple, because it lays bare the human feelings of the wearer, which are usually hidden behind a mask. Jewellery gives a discreet clue to the spiritual and intellectual identity of the wearer and expresses more or less the ambivalence of the modern attitude to life. This viewpoint of the Estonian artists connects them with the great jewellery artists of the world.
Kadri Mälk, Piret Hirv and Tanel Veenre are some of the most important artists of their country and contribute to giving Estonian jewellery art its international reputation.


Olga Zobel Biro

1Cited from Kadri Mälk, from the catalogue “Twilight“, Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn, p. 2
2Interview with Klimt02, Barcelona, 2006
3Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Groß-Cophta A II/4, Marquise
4Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Maxims and Reflections
5Maria Valdma in the catalogue: Leili Kuldkepp, Classics, Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design, Tallinn, 2006, p.14
6Kadri Mälk in the catalogue, op. cit, p.16
7Leili Kuldkepp in the catalogue, op. cit., p. 14
8The Jewellery Department at the Academy was founded in 1924. Estonia has a great jewellery tradition, which dates back to the medieval system of guilds.
8Kadri Mälk, Interview with Klimt 02, Barcelona, 2006
10Kadri Mälk, Interview for the Danish press: “New Estonian jewellery, empathic and reflecting itself ”
11La Triennale européenne du Bijou Contemporain est organisée conjointement par la Musée de l’Orfèvrerie, Domaine du Château de Seneffe et par le World Crafts Conceil-Belgique francophone, asbl., Kadri Mälk, p. 14
12 Nocturnus, international jewellery art exhibition and night colloquy. Island of Muhu, Pädaste manor house 2001, Nocturnal lectures about angels, fear and the subconsious in jewellery held during the night colloquy, and the relevant textes about all that. Catalogue: Nocturnus, Editor: Metal Art Department at the Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn, 2001 

Piret Hirv. Brooch: Sleep pillow. White gold, aqua marine. Piret, HirvBrooch: Sleep pillowWhite gold, aqua marine. Piret Hirv
Brooch: Sleep pillow
White gold, aqua marine


Piret, Hirv
Brooch: Sleep pillow
White gold, aqua marine

© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Tanel Veenre. Brooch: Shyer. Turquoise, coral, resin, gold. Tanel, VeenreBrooch: ShyerTurquoise, coral, resin, gold. Tanel Veenre
Brooch: Shyer
Turquoise, coral, resin, gold


Tanel, Veenre
Brooch: Shyer
Turquoise, coral, resin, gold

© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Piret Hirv. Brooch: Longing for snow. Silver, paint. Piret, HirvBrooch: Longing for snowSilver, paint. Piret Hirv
Brooch: Longing for snow
Silver, paint


Piret, Hirv
Brooch: Longing for snow
Silver, paint

© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Kadri Mälk. Brooch: Unexpected angel. Silver, white gold, resin, black diamond, aqua marine. Kadri, MälkBrooch: Unexpected angelSilver, white gold, resin, black diamond, aqua marine. Kadri Mälk
Brooch: Unexpected angel
Silver, white gold, resin, black diamond, aqua marine


Kadri, Mälk
Brooch: Unexpected angel
Silver, white gold, resin, black diamond, aqua marine

© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
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