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Small Monumentalists

Curators and artists: Villu Plink ja Silja Saarepuu

Aet Andersma-Tamm and Mare Soovik-Lobjakas, glass artists with a monumental grasp, and Silja Saarepuu and Villu Plink, bards of the ‘little people’, will meet at the Art Hall gallery, where they will combine the innovation used in interior design in the 1970s and the contemporary interpretation of tradition. The exhibition Little Monumentalists will be held in the Tallinn Art Hall gallery until 26 August. 


Formally, this exhibition could be one of applied art – Aet Andresma-Tamm and Mare Soovik-Lobjakas are glass artists who acquired their specialties in the second half of the 1960s at the Estonian Academy of Arts (then the Estonian State Institute of the Arts); Silja Saarepuu and Villu Plink graduated from jewellery and blacksmithing from the same school more than 30 years later. In terms of content, however, the exhibition is much more interesting. We face the two display spaces of installation art of the two pairs of artists, each complementing the other. One shifts the functional power of monumental spatial design and the other consists of paintings, videos, and photos – some of them are rather large – depicting the little worlds of little people. The four artists take a quick look back and do not seem to regret bringing simply a good art exhibition, not necessarily one of applied art, to the viewers. ‘It would be more intriguing, of course, to take the ‘hopelessly inapplicable art versus applied art,’ approach, but in the end, all kinds of art can be applied in a way. If not otherwise, they can be used to make a fire,’ Silja and Villu say half-jokingly. The joke, however, has some truth to it.

The changes that happened in the 1990s and promoted the sanctity of private property and consumerism also affected cultural values. The perceptions of spatial design of the new owners of Viru Hotel meant that one of the most beautiful and appreciated decor artworks from the early 1970s – the ceiling light of the restaurant on the first floor of the hotel – was taken to the dump. The grandiose chandelier by Mare Soovik and Aet Andresma, called the Cloud, was and still is one of the most internationally known pieces of interior design of that period. The authors managed to save a few hundred of the more than 8,000 glass modules of the Cloud. Silja and Villu, inspired by this wreckage, convinced Mare and Aet to create a smaller replica of this former monumental piece and an integral part of the ‘Little Monumentalists’ exhibition.


Nowadays, when the soft all-embracing cloud reality can solely rely on the eluding vapour, the artist pair Silja Saarepuu and Villu Plink assume an approach of caring humour and protective understanding. There, different eras, people, and ways of communication all come together. The little people of Silja Saarepuu and Villu Plink and the ‘cloud world’ of Aet Andersma-Tamm and Mare Soovik-Lobjakas are little only in terms of size. In the shifted reflection of the big picture, the little and the monumental change strategic positions smoothly, kindly, and visibly. These positions often remain unnoticed in historical interpretations.