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Sirja-Liisa Eelma and Mari Kurismaa. Repeating Patterns

Curator Tamara Luuk

Repeating Patterns, the exhibition of paintings by Sirja-Liisa Eelma and Mari Kurismaa, will open at the Art Hall Gallery on 29 January at 11:00 am. Although they are both quite familiar with the disciplining austerity, the artists have now taken on the joyful freedom to do what makes them happy. Despite the certain eclecticism of the exhibition, Mari and Sirja-Liisa firmly lead the audience towards light-hearted hedonism.


Both Sirja-Liisa Eelma and Mari Kurismaa are well known to art lovers and have also received awards for their work at different times: Mari for her so-called metaphysical paintings of frozen silence from the 1980s and 1990s and later also as a highly respected interior architect; and Sirja-Liisa for her work that has evolved from the satirical projects of the early 2000s where she often incorporated word plays to today´s  paintings characterised by poetic imagery.

For interior architect Mari Kurismaa, this exhibition is the first showing of her paintings after a long silence. For Sirja-Liisa Eelma, it is another example of the repetitions of patterns that have been eliminating distinct meanings in her works for some time already.


Curator Tamara Luuk: “It seems perfectly logical that Mari Kurismaa and Sirja-Liisa Eelma have engaged in a dialogue as artists. They both use the repetition of images to create an active background or a rhythmic pattern that guides the entire picture, and they are both fascinated by Eastern peace of mind and reflectiveness. They do not depict people in their paintings, yet they exclude no-one. The colour choices of both Mari and Sirja-Liisa are refined and rich in nuances, and the structure of their works is carefully thought through. Leaving behind the periods of early experimentation where action art was intertwined with the verbal meaning connected to the visual image, installation and the readymade, they both have reached a state of meditative peace, offering viewers visual pleasure by bringing order to beauty and nostalgia. This is how they mature.”


Mari: “All important things are invisible. The pictures must contain something inexplicable; otherwise, there is no point in bothering with them. Inevitable longing is the only justification for adding something to this already overly saturated world.” Sirja-Liisa: “I believe it is this orderliness that brings us together. The yearning for an ideal, which may be a moment before the chaos, or all moments above all chaoses.“


Mari Kurismaa (1956) is an interior architect and painter who has been active as an interior and exhibition designer for the past twenty years. In the decades before that, however, she was known mainly as the creator of paintings of visually striking effects of stopped time and space, mostly with a geometric structure. In 1994, Kurismaa received the Kristjan Raud Art Award for her paintings.


Sirja-Liisa Eelma (1973) has been committed to painting consistently and almost without interruption throughout her career. After graduating from the Estonian Academy of Arts in 1996 (MA; PhD student since 2018), she has staged well over a dozen solo exhibitions. Her paintings do not stop time, but rather compress it with laconic repetition accompanied by a calm tension of contemplation. In 2016 Sirja-Liisa Eelma received the Konrad Mägi Art Award.