Published 27/05/2024 | 16:00

Jevgeni Zolotko’s largest solo exhibition to date opens in Kumu

Jevgeni Zolotko. 2024. Photo by Gabriela Urm / Estonian Centre for Contemporary Art

The Secret of Adam, the solo exhibition of Jevgeni Zolotko, one of the most idiosyncratic contemporary artists in Estonia, will open in the Kumu Art Museum on 31 May. The exhibition explores the relationship between things and language in human life, referring to the story in the Bible where Adam was given the task of naming everything around him. The artist and the museum have dedicated this exhibition to the late curator Triin Tulgiste-Toss (1987–2024).

“Instead of dealing with the topical and political, the context of Jevgeni Zolotko’s art is Western cultural history in the broadest sense, embracing antiquity, the Bible, belles-lettres, philosophy and folklore. Zolotko’s art deals with existential topics: life, death, loneliness, silence and decay, as well as hope, and it can be compared to a tower: every new work of art grows out of the previous one, specifying and elaborating on what has been said before,” said the curator of the exhibition, Triin Tulgiste-Toss.

“Architecturally and cognitively the Kumu exhibition hall is a mono-space. Therefore, I decided right at the beginning that the exhibition needed to be one single utterance or phrase constituting an integral whole. And it is the longest sentence I have ever composed,” stated Jevgeni Zolotko.

The Secret of Adam integrates earlier works with newly elaborated and completely new ones. The display has two centres of gravity: the installation Silent (2020), which the artist has developed further for this exhibition, and the recently completed new work.

The exhibition is accompanied by a book that provides a broad free-genre overview of Jevgeni Zolotko’s oeuvre to date. It contains a comprehensive article by the curator, Triin Tulgiste-Toss, excerpts from interviews with the artist, thorough descriptions of Zolotko’s works by Anti Saar, and numerous short articles by various authors. The book was compiled by Eero Epner and Peeter Talvistu and designed by Tuuli Aule.

The opening programme of the exhibition will take place on Saturday, 1 June. At 1 pm there will be a tour of the exhibition with Kumu’s contemporary art curator Ann Mirjam Vaikla, and at 2 pm there will be a tour led by the artist himself. An artist talk with Jevgeni Zolotko and the art historian and dramatist Eero Epner will take place at 4 pm.

The exhibition in the Contemporary Art Gallery on the 5th floor of the Kumu Art Museum will remain open from 31 May 2024 to 5 January 2025.

The exhibition is supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.