NOBA Nordic Baltic contemporary art platform

The exhibition „Memory of the Place III“ at Haus Gallery consists of a series of large and middle-scale paintings, in which muted colour schemes recreate powerful references to epic wastelands – whether volcanic plains in Island, rock and sand deserts of North America and and North Africa, or the abstract textures and silhouettes of metropols such as San Fransisco or New York. Yet, the emphasis on urban culture and its marks on walls, surfaces and spaces co-exist in Jaan Elken’s paintings together with more eternal rules. As a painter, he navigates an aesthetically disturbed world which aims to connect to the viewer from a more universal and global position.

Jaan Elken has emphasized that in the same manner he was a not a pure hyperrealist in the 1970s, he is also not a pure-bred abstractionist now. He argues that for an artist, the concept of reality is intriguing and deviates slightly from the understanding of reality/actuality in everyday language. The imagery system used by the painter (brushstrokes, colouring, etc.), with certain characteristic methods for constructing the pictorial reality and aesthetic propaganda are the painter’s reality, actuality or hyper-reality.

Jaan Elken explains: „Being on the road has been my author’s position as an artist for decades already, both in its literal and indirect meaning; in addition to straight pathways, I also appreciate the logic and rhythm expressed in complex urban structures and in addition to natural rock deserts, I also consider urban conglomerates as grand. As an artist who values the methods of abstract art most highly, I want to be the (re)creator of textures/forms similar to natural forms – not an imitaator… For that reason to say I am an abstract artist would be superficial, the triggers and atmosphere are always spurred from specific events, structures, or even psychologically experienced memory fragments. I talk about senses and instincts on my paintings, how I sense things. These are very specific. There is nothing abstract about this, so whether art is „abstract“ „conditional“ or „signified“….

Jaan Elken (b.1954) is a painter. He has been a member of the Estonian Artists’ Association since 1981. In 1997-2018 he has been working as a professor of Chair of Painting at the University of Tartu Institute Cultural Research and Fine Art, until its closing. Since 2018 he is a Professor Emeritus at the University Tartu Faculty of Arts and Humanities.  
He started his artistic career with hyper-realistic paintings in 1970s and has since become one of the most significant abstract painters in Estonian art. Elken has held more than 70 personal exhibitions, including in the Museum of New Art in Pärnu (2009, 2014), Tallinn Art Hall (2005), Tartu Art Museum (2005), Adamson-Eric Museum (2000), in addition to exhibitions in Berlin, Kiev, Helsinki, Riga etc. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including: 2018/2019 The X-Files [Registry of the Nineties] – Kumu Art Museum; 2016 Cold Look. Variation of Hyperrealism in Estonian Art – Kumu Art Museum; 2015 Nord Art 2015 – Kunstwerk Carlshütte, Rendsburg/Büdelsdorf; 2014 Tallinn S`Invite À Carcassonne – Chapelle des Jesuites, Carcassonne; 2013 In Between – zwischen Energie und Materie  –  Alte Oberpostdirektion, Hamburg;  2012 In Between New Abstraction & New Concretion – Klaipeda Culture Communication Center; 2012 Art Vilnius’12 International contemporary art fair – Lithuanian Exhibition and Congress Centre (Litexpo);  2011 Mystics and Moderns: Painting in Estonia before Glasnost –Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum. Rutgers The State University of New Jersey etc.
His works belong to the art collections of the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum (Rutgers, New Jersey; The Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union), CAM_Casoria Contemporary Art Museum (Naples), Tretyakov Gallery, Ivanovsky  Art Museum, Matthew Bown Gallery, European Parliament, Art Museum of Estonia, Tartu Art Museum, The Museum of New Art in Pärnu and many other collections around the world.

See the artist’s home page for more information: www.jaanelken.com

Artist thanks: Piia Ausman and Haus gallery staff, Linda Elken, Stanislav Stepashko
Exhibition is supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia

Gallery name: Haus gallery

Address: Uus 17, Tallinn

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10:00 - 18:00, Sat 11:00 - 16:00

Open: 04.11.2020 - 02.12.2020