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Eesti kunstnikud: Alexei Gordin, Mirjam Hinn, Saskia Järve, Raoul Kurvitz, Karl-Kristjan Nagel, Raul Rajangu, Jaan Toomik, Alar Tuul

Future, now?

(Text: Tiiu Rebane )

In the middle of the current global case of a new eco-semiotic order and progressive regulations, the 17th International Vilnius Painting Triennial has raised the question of a subject with a free will; has conceptualized romantic reference to art as a rebellious, creative, and uncontrollable force; hinted at the positive aspects of total isolation as a necessary condition for adequate development of an individual.

Turning to art as to the carrier of an autonomous rebellion could even be a slightly belated attempt to find the indispensable resources in the modern intellect or the aspects of individual souls that have not yet been spent out with intent of installing these free entities for pulling the chariot of society’s hopes.

Estonian painting meets this challenge from a metaphysical point of view, with a high degree of generalization and references to an individual negation practices. Freedom of expression and special cultivation of the universal ideas in art are still valued, even here in the north where there it is no custom for society to seek artistic help or solutions to current or even less to global issues in art. The whitewashing in proportions of iconoclasm has introduced centuries ago a general and common tradition of not looking for answers in the visual arts. The audience, even the most literate one, does not talk or think much about painting during their lifetime or seek practical-philosophical answers in images.

It seems to be easy here to be related to Foucault's thesis of individualization and do it with the least possible doubt, as it is a basic cognitive factor and ontological norm in the introverted North, even during the ongoing process of formalizing individualism as such. It is from this point of singularity the ​​creativity branches off here; even on the verge of the epoch of new biologically oriented collectivity and maximized politicization of the private space.

In 21. Century the humanitarian intellect (philosophy etc) exceeded its cumulative maximum and blended into various popular culture manifestations forming an unified information field of a new nature: an anthropogenic chaos that generates modern meanings or combinatorial possibilities in a playful and autonomous manner. It has become common to express, materialize and practice different versions of truth during one lifetime or project; there is no longer a question of whether a person will find the truth, but rather how many truths a person will come to play through in life (or project).

"Forms of possible knowledge" (M.F.)

The question of individualization seems more and more interesting and mystical in the age of emerging new collective political subjects. The hope projected on philosophy increasingly resembles hope for help from the Cheshire Cat, whose portrait is found in Alar Tuul's painting, and whose face is suspiciously reminiscent of Michel Foucault`s.

The properties of cumulative type of culture is demonstrated and enabled on paintings presented to the Triennal by Alar Tuul. Here the contemporary information field resembles Stanislaw Lemi's neo-cynical Solaris and artistic style gives an impression of humorous social commentary without ever actually touching upon the surrounding life where clear reasoning has given way to subconsciousness and from this, endless stories can be found, copied and constructed.

"Normative frameworks of behavior" (M.F.)


While being surrounded by the aforementioned collective subjects or subjects biased by certain definite ideas the theme of individualization in Alexey Gordin's work is united with a broad spectrum of social empathy and related to the general worry worldview of an artist as a well and much better informed individual. What could be better in such a situation than to instill in people a healthy attitude, doing so by placing a clear and precise "art-mirror" in front of the viewer's gaze.

Gordin's work resembles a series of Buddhist puzzles for which no one fixed answer can be expected. However, the genuinely helpless citizens in Alexey Gordin's paintings do show an extraordinary simultaneous joy and indestructible vitality. The bright idea of ​​M.Foucault's individualization is permanently shining on the foreheads of the portrayed, the tireless drive of the immortal will seems to inject strength into the actors' hearts. With the selection of paintings presented to the Vilnius Triennial, Gordin monitors the contemporary art scene and creates a generalization of the citizen's lamella like position wherever else i.e in all normal social spheres. For understanding that quality the ontological right keyword would be “limbo” as the closest equal for the present, perfect and continuous future here; life as an endless void- the lacanian chaos field “between two deaths, the symbolic and the real”.

Artist`s alter ego, caught in Gordin's video, is the lonely disabled immortal object who crosses the road with art crutches. You can learn from this. The old-school wooden crutches in Gordin's video almost do gain a political significance as same as does the non modular abnormality of a person on foot in an anti-utopian environment.

"So, are we approaching the new era of humanity, paradoxical to the situation when living outside the digital space is only a privilege? The privileges will be those that will regulate the digital space without being included in it.". (SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK: WE WILL BE CONTROLLED AS IN TOTALITARIANISM)

"Potential modes of existence for possible subjects" (M.F.)

We all have ghosts, ghosts are all we have.

Jaan Toomik`s work "Exercises for the Past'' stems from a metaphysical and shamanist outlook on the world and focuses the viewer's gaze from this phenomenological position on the eternal content of existence: life and death, religion and spirituality, all that ties the human body to the cyclical processes in nature. (1)

What could be the truth, and how is existence related to truth or is the objective verity as such beyond any human control or reach? Toomik's magnetically green work could belong to the category of new types of altar paintings. In the context of the era when human culture creates substitutions for everything natural, the author still sees the man as a central and determining actor, i.e. a (sacred and natural) subject of the destiny. Toomik creates an algorithm, the fatally moralizing aura of which is clearly perceptible through the focal point of placing a small human figure in the middle of the picture but who still cannot be taken as the only subject in the painting. The vertical of the work is filled from edge to edge with a living existence and charged with unknownness to the man. Toomik portrays a person putting him into nature like an eternal student on the verge of discovering the infinity and endless mysteries of being alive.

Saskia Järve sets up the question of the shaping role of the past from the perspective of functional psychology. Järve bases her arguments on statistically competent raw data and focuses her gaze on memory distortions while passing through collective memory. She points out that in order for something to be stored in personal memory and to be recalled later, the content has to be shared collectively. Therefore, the memories are inevitably connected with a larger reshaping mechanism that also is surrendered to "forgetting" and other defence mechanisms that restructure the conscious memory recordings and thus reshapes visions for the future. (2)

In case the future is built more or less on memories the key for shaping the future does lie in the realm of collective psychology and collective aesthetic perceptions. In case there is nothing else. As there can also be observed the role of an intellect in stopping the major cataclysms and emotional shocks; by entering the landscapes of Saskia Järve you move into your desired reality where your thought has stopped the explosions and the surrounding matter has been questioned by your willing mind.

“Transmitting wireless signals directly into the brain, a group of scientists has produced in 2002 the ultimate lab animal that can be guided by remote control over fences, up trees, through pipe and across rubble at distances up to a third of a mile.

"We are unable to imagine some free-flowing reality, the world without any transcendent controlling dimension or mechanism at all," says Raul Rajangu. “We in our culture are literally just like Pavlov's immortal dogs: our most important reflex is the reflex of control, there just has to be someone in control, some Almighty, some Mastermind, some AI, some Flesh-And-Bones superagent, some All Seeing Eye or something like that, forever.

The Message we are being indoctrinated into is as comforting as it is vulgar: “Stay private, enjoy yourself because you can’t change anything anyway! Any collective counter-act is in advance doomed“.” (R.Rajangu)

Raul Rajangu is the father of Estonian postmodern art who constantly stands on the boundary between two worlds, mediating between them. His works provide a meeting point for East and West, communism and total capitalism, public and personal, consciousness and non-consciousness, life and death. Rajangu's works appear as tales about the modern, brought to an exponential maximum and with a precisely timed moment of explosion in the viewer's imagination.

Mirjam Hinn as an abstractionist has been attracted to bright colors and taking her paintings toward molecular level deconstructions.

Hinn uses brush strokes as a central image of the painting. Although the paintings are abstract in form, the dynamics on the chessboards like canvases present exciting solutions to the laws of environment and human nature. The play of fragments, forms and confrontations on two dimensional surfaces create dynamical, almost musical, intermittent planes and compositional solutions that have the ability to stretch multidimensionally in front of the viewer's eyes. Paintings as abstract instrumental pieces unfolding the industrial progress.. Hinn's coloring focuses willingly on bright variations of GOELRO-plan like style green and purple, the almost raw color combination which became relevant in early days of modernism as did the bright and cunning idea of worldwide electrification.

Raoul Kurvitz's paintings from his grand-zen art-project “VOOL” (eng. “FLOW”), is an ambitious undertaking - to redefine the world according to the changed situation of the last decades, where the fragmentation and non-hierarchical characteristics of postmodernism are merged into a new overwhelming guiding principle. Kurvitz provides an answer to the unresolved question about the indivisibility of the collective political subject and the possible imaginability of the actual individualization or the general idea of it.

Raoul Kurvitz: “Power is first and foremost a body, something that takes over fragments of wood shattered by lightning - a good and bad - doing so as the world requires. Every such flow —every personal existence, a set of ideas, an activity of a group of people, a political force of a state, a subculture, or any combination of them — functions uniquely as an individual, comparable in this sense to fragments in a postmodernist way of thinking.”

All that the world`s current global political and military grip is proving and confirming is that there is no, and has never been, any spiritual evolution and never even existed any hope for it. (K.-K..Nagel)

Karl-Kristjan Nagel, whose politically charged works have been described as paintings that "kill words on the lips" has made a series of artworks where this included “presumption of danger” is presented in a completely different way. Present paintings focus on alternative culture phenomena and on artworks by authors who have fallen into the status of an outsider, being forgotten. Similarly to Saskia Järve, Nagel points out that in order to be stored in memory and to be recalled, the subject has to be shared collectively. In addition to existence, it has to be respoken.

Nagel's art here is aimed at public awareness through retelling, reorganizing the main focus on the subtle structures that exist in culture: the works of art as manifestations of already existing/real/independent etc. individualizations. The paintings draw attention to the invisible, forgotten and repressed categories by popular culture, i.e to authors who have not been written into history during practicing the overwhelming mainstream of cultural habits towards world-wide alienation and being driven by both natural and man-made viruses.

However, what is our future?

Tiiu Rebane (curator of the Estonian exposition) Dec.2020

* The lexical definition of parrēsia (παρρησίᾳ), whose meaning Foucault tries to re-shape and re-assemble, is ‘outspokenness, frankness, freedom of speech’ (Liddell, H.G. and R. Scott A Greek-English lexicon. Oxford: Oxford University., 1940: 1344).

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