Skip to main content

Spring Exhibition. The Exotic of the Ordinary

Spring Exhibition. 16th annual Estonian Artists’ Association exhibition

The Exotic of the Ordinary is an exhibition of works by five artists at the City Gallery that is focused on the everyday, habitual and ordinary. Household chores, panelised houses, time and village life all acquire special meaning when focused on and purged by the artists. Nostalgia for a bygone era and simpler things, which seem downright exotic in today’s smart society, also come into play.


Ulvi Haagensen’s installations are comprised of depictions and conceptualisations of everyday motifs and household activities. Ad infinitum focuses on routine and “less important” work. Haagensen is interested in how one is affected by the repetition of everyday activities, and whether daily cleaning chores can provide any spiritual ennoblement and growth; and what shifts in perception occur as the result of repetitive motions and situations.


Elis Saareväli’s “iron paintings” seemingly provide an answer to Haagensen’s questions. The canvases with burn marks and tears are clearly metaphorical, and speak of spiritual tension and the limits of patience, which, in turn, result from an attempt to cope with the environment, with life generally. Thus, Saareväli has raised a condition that is familiar to everyone to an aesthetic level.


Aleksandr Tishkov’s installations paid homage to the Lasnamägi of his childhood. Only children are able to exploit the unlimited potential of spaces like sandboxes, huts, nests, and balconies. Tishkov’s works speak of the perception of Lasnamägi from various positions and moments in time.


The reoccurring theme of Heikki Leis’s series Kronovores is embodied by a simple clock with red numbers that appears in picture after picture. The photos have been made in the most diverse places in the world: from an operating room in Tartu to ordinary living rooms in Uganda and Cambodia, thereby making the necessity for time and the relativity of the impact of time apparent. “Time is a human invention, which has turned against its creator. Something meant to create order has become an enslaver; we are the prisoners of the system we have created. Time exists where people are present. Does it exist where we are not present?” asks Leis.


Strange things keep happening in Toomas Kuusing’s series Ordinary People. In the paintings, which he has worked on for 10 years, he mediates visions that are utterly Hieronymos Bosch-like and Biblical in nature without any bewilderment or astonishment, as if they were the most ordinary in the world. But, things are different in this Seto series. Kuusing highlights the ordinary in his surroundings, which have become extraordinary when painted. The Netherlandish paintings of the 17th century have clearly served as example for his colouring and technique and he uses them to indicate that traditional Seto culture is something outside of our time.


Curator: Anneli Porri


Thanks to: Uus Monumentaal OÜ


Ulvi Haagensen (b.1964 in Sydney, Australia) studied both fine art and jewellery art in Sydney; since 2015, a PhD student at the Estonian Academy of Arts. Appeared at exhibitions since 1991.

Heikki Leis (b. 1973) studied sculpture at the Tartu Art College, but he is primarily known for his hyperrealist pencil drawings. Since 2004, also an avid photographer.

Toomas Kuusing (b. 1976) studied painting at Academia Grata and Estonian Academy of Arts (BA 2005).

Elis Saareväli (b. 1980) studies painting at the Estonian Academy of Arts (BA 2005) and art education at Tallinn University.

Aleksandr Tishkov (b. 1989 in Tallinn) studied painting at the Art Academy of Latvia and sculpture at the Tartu Art College.