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Dried, Dehydrated, Dessicated

Tanel Veenre

Just like four years ago right here, the entirety of Tanel Veenre’s current exhibition is constructed around the rolling drama of two force lines: this time it is the relationship between memory and forgetting, between the concealing and revealing function of jewellery. Two themes – black and white in two – white and black – gallery spaces.

The flounces that are made of wood and bone comprise an attempt to cleanse one’s thinking and pathway and finally also the image. The image of drapery is itself banal. It’s as if nothing is happening. But for me, these white folds hide the story of western culture – from antiquity to Christian culture. The marking of the presence of the body, hidden erotica without which there would be nothing. I call this series WILL. The series of dark books is more complicated and layered, with more multiple meanings. This started to haunt me years ago… Last autumn I tackled this theme again and started sculpting more books – from ebony and jet. A link developed with Eco’s The Name of the Rose – with the destruction of occidental verbal wisdom. …The inability of words to describe the nature of things, and the attempt of culture to redo this despite everything. The result is jewellery made of carved and real books – bracelets with book-piercing holes among them. It seemed powerful as an image – to shove your hand through words, thereby destroying the content of the book and nullifying the message. I call this series THE NAME OF THE ROSE. Tanel Veenre


The concern of the artist for western culture, for the deflation of its monuments that have developed during centuries-long games of concealment and nudity, and for the depletion of its existence is not a casual whim. It has been consistently formulated in the texts of his jewellery books and reflected in his works. Both of these forcefully, personally and yet delicately acknowledge that the artist is able to speak and imagine only in the refined language of this same culture and that any other existence is unthinkable for him. If the breath full of errors, clumsiness, imperfection and sometimes cruelty of the people including these who create culture is sufficient to breathe life into the old and the tired, then these are also welcome in Tanel Veenre’s jewellery with its striking aesthetics. An adequate sojourn in the present day along with the ability to have a happy work existence that cherishes beauty and idealism are the backbones of the story that guide Tanel. The artist’s thoughts and gestures behind his work are imbued on the one hand with emotionality and on the other with daring pragmatism. A successful jewellery designer – yes! A jewellery artist that generalises his concepts and artist’s position through exhibitions – yes!


Contemporary jewellery that is validating itself in a very estimable creative niche is doing well, its status and function save it from the requirements imposed upon it by the crumbling ambition of fine art. A jewellery artist can speak about everything and with the greatest freedom! Jewellery can allow itself anything and still be understood and garner approval! It indiscernibly steps out of the world of small things and into the shoes of sculpture that has forfeited monumentality and elegantly walks on in a friendly environment.


Thus – attention, JEWELLERY! There is lots of it in Tallinn this September and October: Mirrors Are Invisible, an exhibition by Peter Skubic, an honorary PhD at the Estonian Academy of Arts at the Salt Storage (curator Tanel Veenre); Symptom, an exhibition by young jewellery artists (including Prof. Tanel Veenre’s students) Darja Popolitova, Merlin Meremaa, Hanna-Maria Vanaküla and Sofja Hallik at the Academy of Arts Gallery; Testament, an solo exhibition by Kadri Mälk at the Niguliste Museum. It is significant that alongside his charismatic teacher and colleague, Kadri Mälk Tanel Veenre will be exhibiting his sculpted black drapery detail of Death’s robe from the Danse Macabre in this same Niguliste Museum. It’s as if there was a link between the times, customs and Art Hall Gallery exhibition.


Tanel Veenre (b. 1977) graduated from the Estonian Academy of Arts in Jewellery and Blacksmithing, and furthered his studies at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam and Central St Martins in London. His work has been exhibited at more than 150 shows in Estonia and elsewhere. He has lectured and conducted workshops from Europe to Brazil and China. Tanel Veenre’s work is represented at the top galleries in the jewellery world: Platina (Sweden), Ornamentum (USA), SODA (Turkey), Biró (Germany), Ra (Netherlands), and Pont&Plas (Belgium). Author’s books: EHE (2009) and Käeulatuses / Handful (2015). Currently working as a professor at the Estonian Academy of Arts, the designer for the TVJ brand, and freelance artist.


Exhibition supported by Estonian Cultural Endowment/ Eesti Kultuurkapital


The artist wishes to thank: Tarmo Saaret, Aldo Järvsoo, Karolis Kurklietis, Kateřina Kolingerová, Ko Ming-Miao, Andie Lowrie, Egle Sitkauskaite, Olga Tea Krek, Sille Luiga, Hanna-Maria Vanaküla, Tamara Luuk and Valge Kuup.


Special thanks to Mihkel Ilus and Allan Appelberg!