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Tartu Art Museum displays masterpieces of Estonian surrealism in Helsinki

On February 2, the Tartu Art Museum will open the exhibition "Surrealism 100 x Tartmus" at the Estonian Embassy in Helsinki. The exhibition features works with surrealistic themes from the Tartmus collection. It is a preview of the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024 programme.

03. Feb Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu

Photo: Tartu Art Museum

When Tartu and Southern Estonia are named European Capital of Culture in 2024, Europe will commemorate the 100th anniversary of surrealist art and literature. Tartu is the unofficial centre of Estonian surrealism, as the greatest surrealist artists were active in the university town.

“Surrealism 100 x Tartmus” will open at the Estonian Embassy in Helsinki, featuring the cream of the crop. Jüri Arrak, Silvia Jõgever, Karin Luts, Ilmar Malin, Jüri Palm, Kersti Rattus, Ülo Sooster, and Lüüdia Vallimäe-Mark are among the artists represented in the exhibition.

According to curator Joanna Hoffman, unreality, dreams, hallucinations, pathological states, and the secrets of the unconscious play an important role in surrealist art. Reality-bending works created in this spirit have an unexpected and intriguing effect, provide the pleasure of deconstruction, and broaden the fantasy horizon.

“A programmatic school of surrealists did not emerge in Estonia, where western artistic movements arrived late. Many artists, including Eduard Wiiralt, Karin Luts, and Ülo Sooster, experimented with surrealist themes but did not devote themselves entirely to it,” adds Hoffmann to the background of local art history. “Ilmar Malin can be considered as Estonia’s most consistent surrealist artist. He was also one of the founders of the surrealist group Para ’89, which was founded in Tartu in the late 1980s,” the curator adds.

The Tartu Art Museum will host four surrealist exhibitions in the coming year as part of the “Surrealism 100” exhibition project: an international exhibition at the Estonian National Museum in collaboration with the National Gallery in Prague, 1980s caricature and animation art in Estonia, a solo exhibition of contemporary artist Kris Lemsalu, and an Ilmar Malin retrospective at the Tartu Art Museum.

To arrange a visit to the exhibition, please contact [email protected].

Curators: Joanna Hoffmann, Kristlyn Liier
Artworks provided by: Tartu Art Museum
Artists: Jüri Arrak, Silvia Jõgever, Karin Luts, Ilmar Malin, Jüri Palm, Kersti Rattus, Ülo Sooster, Lüüdia Vallimäe-Mark

Surrealism 100 thanks: European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024, Kati Torp, Anu Kippasto, Katrin Nõu, Liisa Ojaveer, Karin Pastak, Peeter Talvistu

The exhibition is open until May 30, 2023.