March 24, 2017 - May 31, 2017
The garden, which usually covers the tables in the restaurant, is this time also covering the walls. Art Prior is exhibiting a collection from many renowned contemporary Estonian painters. The garden has touched each one of them in its own way – the garden as a nature space and as a space that has offered something to think about over time. This time, it is Art Prior that is being coloured and diversified by the realistic or abstract, direct or indirect views of the garden and by the moments inspired by the garden.
The garden is just like a transition, a place between a living space with walls and a roof, and between the untamed wilderness or the city. The garden may represent something small, ordinary and private – a grassy backyard in the summer, where the sun lays gleams of light with its rays, someone’s hotbeds or a free elemental land behind the house, a view from the window into one’s self and the yard outside. But the garden can also be simply a corner next to a shed, in which there lays a satisfied kitten or a carefully trimmed representative park of some castle with an iridescent fountain between the rose bushes, while the sound of a violin plays in your mind.
The garden is a place as a fact, current or old reality; a place somewhere that is continuously being developed in our thoughts, memories and fantasies. If we know how to see it, the garden is like an arena with secret passageways with a hedge labyrinth as a coulisse, in which we can find ourselves in wonderland by following the rabbit with a pocket watch.
The participants of the exhibition “Inspired by the Garden” are Mauri Gross, August Künnapu, Kamille Saabre, Stina Murakas, Andro Kööp, Sven Saag, Maris Tuuling, Orest Kormashov, Mari Roosvalt, Toomas Vint, Andres Tolts.
Mauri Gross has values as the main topic of his oil paintings, these being objective, subjective, formal as well as substantive. By applying traditional and academic styles of painting, he has again and again depicted old and worn pairs of boots, as well as juicy and lively berry bunches, with a committed consistency based on the example of van Gogh. By examining such everyday objects and their meanings from every side, and even disassembling them into their initial components, the viewer is struck by their enchantment, just as by the magic wand of the advanced painting technique.
August Künnapu’s works have been characterized by pop art – optimistic colours and an emphatically naive choice of themes. He has become known by his openly jolly themes, and instead of using technical tricks in his paintings, he invests in sincere frankness. The characters partaking in an adventure in his works are not guys with a psychological inner world, but just signs put on the background of sharp colour contrasts. Through this, the artist is also addressing the meanings and stereotypes that societies, cultures, media and others have grafted onto the sign.
Kamille Saabre uses a hyper-realistic painting technique, although her aim is not to copy the beauty of nature, but instead to encourage the viewer to awaken their lust for cleanliness, innocence and maturity, which has been slumbering within them. Even though her paintings do not have human figures, they symbolize and elevate the circle of life of a human completely, in all of its phases. The artist’s favourite models, i.e. lush fruits and flowers, express her position that everything that is in our heart is a matter of all of us because we feed off of each other’s thoughts.
Stina Murakas has been affected by nature since childhood, which is reflected in her works – whether the characters are hardly predictable gentle petals, majestic and calm tree crowns or small birds and animals. The artist’s handwriting is, at the same time, characterized by deeply meditative as well as courageously spontaneous, free and flowing creative self-expression. Her works are sensitive, colourful and multi-layered; sometimes a little bit chaotic and secretive, but always aesthetic and harmonic worlds.
Andro Kööp has been known as a radical vanguard artist, designer as well as an interior designer, which, at the same time, adds social, playful and decorative aspects to his choice of themes. The works of the artist are always more or less spatial, to which he adds plant motifs and precious stones like spectres. The romantic and calm world created in such a way is supplemented by tones full of electricity and a semi-translucent raster background, which fits into a modern, as well as classical, interior and which has almost become a trade mark of the artist.
Sven Saag’s views from grandmother’s garden is an iconic motif, which the author has loved to follow and depict throughout the years, capturing the nuances changing over time, which never lose their nostalgic effect – whether it is a look back at childhood or a moment in the company of a hookah years later. These paintings are heard by the viewers as an echo of the steps in a lush garden far away, which has a hidden gate, through which the shadows behind the walker are stepping through as thoughts that do not let them be watched to the end, even through a modest peek behind a long fringe.
Maris Tuuling is mostly self-taught in the subject of art and this is probably why she has a playful attitude towards painting. Her works are usually painted in happy colours and often depict the life of the suburban wooden settlements. Her works do not have a harassing specificity; we do not recognize houses, streets and people. But Tuuling is a master of conveying moods by bringing us the careless and vernal nature of the outskirts as well as nostalgia and sparkle. Her works have the values known from the “Pallas” School – respect for colour and balance in form – as well as a healthy dose of irony.
Orest Kormashov’s paintings are characterized by strong colour treatment and the depiction of abandoned landscapes and situations. He has even been called an Estonian Matisse, due to his strong colours. He usually conveys the collars as large surfaces, putting together strong, sometimes contrasting and, at first glance, inappropriate tones. His works are not so much characterized by technical cleanliness or detailed nuanced richness, but by uncompromised intensity and certain tough poeticism.
Mari Roosvalt’s works reflect the nature of the artist – constant attempt to capture one’s feelings, surrounding world and its effect on the artist through signs and colours. The artist joins the world and painting as a single unit through colour plays, she has been strongly affected and inspired by many trips. The artist has put the strange lands and exotic nature to the canvas as a vision. Every new place and environment enlarges the field of view of the human soul and their understanding of the world, by increasing the measurements of the latter.
Toomas Vint’s enchanting works, which are recognizable in a good way, have every detail exactly composed, every blade of grass and corner of light has been thought through – analysis, which results in a metaphysically affecting painting, spiritual ideal landscape experience, where everything seems clean and forever unimpaired. The phenomenal exquisiteness of the artist has fed the ardour of the art researchers and the audience, his so called not-from-this-world-landscape rises above the usual landscape.
Andres Tolts and the history of modern art in Estonia have been inseparable for decades. His meaning to the local art world is no longer simply a creation of one artist anymore, and the “Tolts-likeness” has for years stood for a certain skill related to how to process the legacy of modern art individually. Tolts listens to conversations between geometry and popular colours, which is very characteristic to him and which has openly been mixed with exquisite sense of beauty.
Curator of the exhibition: Haus Gallery, Uus tn 17, Tallinn, 6 419 471, email@example.com, www.haus.ee
September 26, 2016 - February 19, 2017
With this exhibition, restaurant Art Prior is presenting contemporary Estonian paintings, offering a fun change of pace from our displays thus far, where the focus was mostly on the history of art and classical sentiments.
Today, the restaurant is filled with the large-format works and massive figure compositions (with some smaller colourful plant motifs placed in between) of Juss Piho, a freelance painter and renowned book illustrator.
In Juss Piho’s paintings time seems to have been frozen, if only for an instant. The viewer is invited into the world of characters created by the artist, to seemingly unknown rooms which become more familiar the closer you get, reminding you of something about yourself or someone else, as if hidden in the deepest corners of your memory. These pictures provoke one to create stories and discuss what took place before or what will happen after the artist, by raising his brush to the canvas, has halted the images. Piho’s paintings are guileful, aloof in their strangeness while familiar in their simplicity. Slowly they start speaking to us, weaving stories, pleasantly haunting us through dynamic groups of people – a lady in a long white dress, or a bird or a cat on the corner of a tablecloth. Large clean intersecting surfaces in the background of Piho’s paintings give each thought some space, just like his characters give a reason to each story and course to each feeling.
Juss Piho (1963) has been actively exhibiting his works since 1987. He is a member of the Estonian Artists’ Association and has won several awards, mostly for his book illustrations, with his 2001 international book illustrations triennial from Japan deserving special recognition. His works can be found in museums as well as in private collections. Though a large part of Juss Piho’s creations consist of drawings and book illustrations, today he can be predominantly considered to be a painter, and a very good painter at that. He is one of those who remains engraved in your memory long after you have seen his creations, urging you to keep coming back to them, as if they were your personal memories.
In the restaurant Art Priori, art is a companion, friend, and partner with whom to communicate and lock eyes, in such a way that it touches something, changes something for the better, making it deeper and clearer.
March 7, 2016 - May 28, 2016
Metamorphosis – transformation, playing along the boundary between imagination and reality, being one here and another there – act, impersonation, but still maintaining one’s self to return to one’s origins – a fairy-tale that is sometimes even more real than life itself.
These could be the keywords accompanying the photo series, inspired by food and the art of European old masters, carrying a hint of the atmosphere of Renaissance paintings, the same as can be seen in old still lifes. The art of the time had such lifelike photorealistic qualities in its supreme masterfulness that some even provoke themselves to be quoted as being created with the help of modern photo equipment. Art is timeless.
It is remarkable that the heroes in these photo series are not professional models – who would personify different eras skilfully – but are instead ordinary people who are participating in this type of studio production for the first time. Employees from the restaurant Art Priori pose for today’s “photo paintings”. Art Priori, located in Tallinn’s Old Town, is also an art project in addition to everything else. The restaurant is a sort of gallery with constantly changing exhibitions, creating intriguing points of contact between art and society. Each exhibition brings about new thoughts and moods which blend into the restaurant’s rooms organically.
Metamorphosis in Art Priori: Old Town, hall with a high ceiling, a chandelier, heavy limestone pillars, with a decorative floor and wall elements influenced by Gothic architecture, a kitchen with ultramodern equipment, contemporary lighting and IT solutions. Walls covered with photos of the restaurant’s employees, who are not immediately recognisable, at least not in the capacity in which they serve us day to day. Everything has changed: eras, clothing, lighting and even thoughts. Each picture has only one contemporary detail, an instrument, carelessly forgotten there from the present day, inviting us to search for connections between then and now – an aesthetic and existential game in time and space.
Art Priori wanted to create its own fairy-tale, one that would show the creativity of a place and the people working there. A fairy-tale about how today’s world is actually a past world and how this past world is the same where we are living today.
This series of photographs was produced in collaboration between the Art Priori restaurant and the Uus Stuudio creative agency. Agneta Hardõkainen and Dima Kalenda, two young up-and-coming practitioners, worked on the project as photographers.
The exhibition is accompanied by a spectacular catalogue. In addition to photographic art, connected to the exhibition is also a belletristic dimension, and each picture in the catalogue is accompanied by a short fairytale written specifically for it.
The staff of Art Priori have received for their immortal lives both worthy likenesses and personal fairy tales.
December 1, 2015 - March 5, 2016
The Baltic German cultural heritage holds an important position in Estonia, in terms of Baltic German academic activities in the 18th and 19th centuries as well as in art, literature, and architecture. Germans living here were cosmopolitan in nature, like their descendants. Born in Estonia, they did not live here permanently. They had many opportunities to travel the world, receive an education, and from that also to find work and recognition as professionals. Contemporary Baltic German art education was significantly influenced and moulded by the drawing school founded in 1803 by the University of Tartu, where a number of artists began before moving to large art metropolises to study. Art Priori’s Great Hall hosts works by Baltic German artists in particular whose work speaks on an international scale, such as Oskar Hoffmann, Eduard von Gebhardt, and Eugen Gustav Dücker, amongst others. Oskar Georg Adolf Hoffmann is undoubtedly one of the most important figures in early Estonian art history. After his early studies in Tartu, Hoffmann moved to the already-legendary Düsseldorf Art Academy. On study trips in Germany and Paris, he honed his painting technique to perfection, and put the finishing touches on this while living and working in St Petersburg, where he became an honorary member of the Art Academy and the owner of an academic medal. He was, amongst other things, one of the most important maritime painters in the imperial capital. Despite his international renown, Hoffmann never forgot Estonia, and often travelled here to find appropriate motifs for his paintings. Alongside grandiose sea- and landscapes, Hoffmann’s etudes are characterised by their depictions of Estonian peasants, accurately portraying the rustic types of the time and thereby creating an understanding from the intersections of simple people. The work on display in this exhibition, “Estonian Farmyard,” perfectly illustrates this genre in Hoffmann’s work. The most definitive breakout into Europe by a Baltic German was undoubtedly that of Eduard von Gebhardt. The artist, who left Estonia at the age of 17, became an innovator of German religious painting, travelling intermittently to his homeland of Estonia to find models for his paintings. When comparing Gebhardt’s work with that of other contemporary artists of Estonian origin, such as Nikolai Triik, Konrad Mägi or Ants Laikmaa, we can see a very different cultural influence. Unlike the latter painters, Gebhardt was strongly influenced by the past. He saw himself as a champion of European religious and painting traditions, not as a creator of a new world. Such an artistic position during the innovative vibrancy of the early 20th century was rare in Estonian artistic life. Gebhardt bears a certain noble attitude in his work, where old traditions outweigh everything else and their continuation is not only interesting, but is also noble and of immense value. Eugen Gustav Dücker could well be regarded as the best known internationally skilled Baltic German artist of all time. He was appointed professor and academic at both Düsseldorf and St Petersburg Art Academies, which were the flagship institutions of the 19th-century realist art movement. Among his students were many famous and highly rated German artists, as well as Oskar Hoffmann himself. His unwavering high level of creative works were added to the collections of art museums in Germany and Russia as well as to private collections, but despite his grand success, Dücker returned again and again to his birthplace in Saaremaa, where he completed many of most renowned works which has been compared with his second-favourite location of Rügen, whose material was equally important to the works of Dücker. Baltic German artists have greatly enriched the local artistic vision, a fact that is manifested in both the work of artists that left here and established a strong foothold elsewhere, as well as in those who belong to the generation which saw changes in the culture of the Baltic Germans. The beginning of the 20th century and the strong rise of a national culture resulted in a change in the prevailing mentality in Estonia, increasingly marginalising and excluding German culture. Broad schools of thought that would have otherwise added Baltic German shades to modern Estonian fine art, thus did not become very influential for a number of reasons. Rather, Baltic German art remained to some extent a product of its own time, but not within a closed space, as it still left this area for the international arena. Taking inspiration from the cosmopolitan art scene, Baltic German artists were rather rated on other scales than later Estonian artists. While Estonians started somewhat from the beginning with a unique and modern artistic movement bearing features of Rome and Paris, the Baltic Germans remained the aristocrats of Estonian art – somewhat removed and strange, yet simultaneously a very powerful, international, traditional, and advanced ruling class.
September 9, 2015 - September 30, 2015
Jüri Mildeberg, born in 1965, is an autodidact in art. His father was the famous graphic artist Aleksander Mildeberg. Jüri is best known as an illustrator and designer of children’s books who has won several prizes and has been widely recognized. He has had numerous exhibitions both in Estonia and abroad that have always charmed with their uniqueness, fantasy and humour. Mildeberg’s works speak of a kind, warm and simple world.
According to the artist himself he is engaged in details that are important. In Mildeberg’s painting a seemingly tiny object or idea acquires large dimensions; insignificant is brought into focus, becoming existential. Big becomes small or small becomes unexpectedly big.
Mildeberg works in mixed technique, he often uses wood boards on which he either paints or adds various strange objects. As a whole Mildeberg’s creative work is like a panopticon in itself – a collection of curiosities, peculiar painted or real objects that have been brought out from somebody’s back room, associated with somebody’s memories, remote history, politics or then with nothing at all.
The artist has called himself a hedonist who enjoys what he is doing – enjoys the feeling how his hands make something complete, how material obeys thought and in the combination of everything new intriguing visual worlds are born to be shared and to rejoice over. Jüri Mildeberg is a profoundly positive hero and such are also his works of art creating atmosphere in the little hall of Art Priori.
June 5, 2015 - October 5, 2015
The exhibition is a parallel to the exhibition “Art Rules” organized by Art-Life Project in Tallinn Town Hall where original paintings from private collections by the most famous Flemish and German artists like Peter Paul Rubens, Lucas Cranach, Albrecht Dürer, Jan and Pieter Brueghel and many others are displayed. In Art Priori the works of the distinguished contemporaries of those authors are exhibited.
More detailed information regarding the era and art is available at www.artrules.ee