Published 12/06/2023 | 17:11

The works of renowned Estonian women printmakers make their way into Kumu’s Great Hall for the first time

Marje Mutsu (1941‒1980). Gaze. 1976. Etching. Art Museum of Estonia

The exhibition Through the Black Gorge of Your Eyes, opening at the Kumu Art Museum on 16 June, offers a new perspective on the generation of Estonian women printmakers that entered the art scene in the second half of the 1960s. The focus is on the complex and multifaceted relationship of these artworks with the time and circumstances in which they were created, as well as on their continuing relevance in today’s world and art.

The late 1960s saw the emergence of an impressive number of women artists who brought significant innovations to the contemporary graphic art. For the first time, the works of Concordia Klar (1938–2004), Silvi Liiva (1941), Marju Mutsu (1941–1980), Naima Neidre (1943), Kaisa Puustak (1945), Marje Taska (1955), Vive Tolli (1928–2020), Aili Vint (1941), Mare Vint (1942–2020) and Marje Üksine (1945) are being displayed together on such a scale. The works were created from the 1960s to the 1980s.

“Offering insight into Estonian women printmakers’ multifaceted perception of the world, these works speak of mindfulness of the surrounding environment, the various aspects of womanhood, appreciation and visualisation of closeness, care and intimacy, friendship and other social and human issues. Perhaps the rich legacy of these women and artists will provide us with much-needed clues and anchors to help us build resilience and look for alternatives in the current challenging times,” said Eda Tuulberg, the curator of the exhibition.

The display has been divided into different chapters that unfold as the viewer passes through the exhibition space: the relationship between humans and nature, different approaches to the body, the roles assigned to people by social norms or acquired on their own choice, the relationship with heritage and folklore, the human impact on the environment and its repercussions, the poetry in the everyday, the dark vibrations of existence, and the multifaceted experiences of womanhood, motherhood and ageing.

The title of the exhibition, Through the Black Gorge of Your Eyes, is a line borrowed from a poem by Concordia Klar, one of the artists featured in the exhibition. The contemporary performance artists Jette Loona Hermanis, Kaja Kann and Keithy Kuuspu have been invited to engage performatively with the artists and artworks in the display. Hermanis’s and Kann’s new performances, inspired by the exhibition, will take place in autumn. Keithy Kuuspu’s performance False Falling will take place in Kumu’s courtyard on 17 June and 19 August as part of the exhibition. The performance will test different stages of mental and physical endurance, inviting the viewer to stand up to challenges and embrace failure in its different manifestations.

The exhibition will be launched with a special programme on Saturday, 17 June.

The exhibition will remain open until 5 November 2023.

You came along the path of
many years of longing,
to tread these village streets with me.
Yonder, cowbells are jingling
the tunes of fresh warm milk,
and sheep are bleaching
their rustic fleece in the sun.
Your solitary path shimmers like a pilgrimage
through the black gorge of your eyes,
but every prayer comes to an end
and comes to life.

Concordia Klar (1960s)

Curators: Maria Arusoo, Eha Komissarov and Eda Tuulberg
Exhibition design: Edith Karlson and Maria Luiga
Graphic design: Brit Pavelson
Exhibition coordinator: Magdaleena Maasik
Senior art handler: Tõnis Medri

Exhibition team: Richard Adang, Darja Andrejeva, Kaarel Eelma, Kaja Kährik, Margit Pajupuu, Renita Raudsepp, Brigita Reinert, Tiiu Saadoja, Kaidi Saavan, Agathe Marie Sarap, Mati Schönberg, Laura Tahk, Elnara Taidre, Anne Untera, Uve Untera and Madli Valk

We thank: Estonian Centre for Contemporary Art, Narva Museum, Tartu Art Museum, private collectors, Kaarel Eelma, Taru Elfving, Eero Epner, Katrin Kivimaa, Krista Kodres, Erik Liiv, Silvi Liiva, Naima Neidre, Heigo Pikkas, Kaisa Puustak, Nikolai Põldroos, Koit Randmäe, Elo-Hanna Seljamaa, Kadi Soosalu, Marje Taska, Aleksander Tsapov, Maria-Kristiina Ulas, Aili Vint and Marje Üksine

With the support of: Cultural Endowment of Estonia, COBALT law firm, Metal-Disain and AkzoNobel