A visit to the Tartu Art Museum

Aili and Toomas Vint  'Aili watching her Dream' 2011 oil on canvas
Aili and Toomas Vint  'Aili watching her Dream' 2011 oil on canvas from the exhibition 'Magic of Nature: Mystical Moments in Estonian Art' showing at Tartu Art Museum.
We've been in Estonia this week to see Hiie's family. The first day was beautiful sun and 27 degree heat and we drove to a lake with Mare and Lembit, 10 minutes outside Tartu, to swim for half an hour. My body was tingling after it. It's so deeply relaxing floating in fresh water looking at the birch trees swaying in the wind.

Kitty getting into the relaxing mood in Tartu, Estonia.
It's been overcast since so of course what else to do but go to a gallery and bookshops. (They seriously have the best bookshops here. The Estonians produce a huge number of their own books and in translation and they have a great variety of quality english books, fiction and non fiction. The university bookshop in Raekoja Plats (the street with the town hall) had the complete ranges of lonely planet, rough guides and eyewitness travel guides in english when we dropped in during the week. It is a university town but still. The equivalent in Sweden is Uppsala and there is no comparison with the amount and quality in Tartu. For such a little town, under 100,000 people, learning seems to be everything here.)

Andres Tolts 'Landscape with the Moon Sun and Lightning' 1982 oil on canvas
Andres Tolts 'Landscape with the Moon, Sun and Lightning' 1982 oil on canvas also in the exhibition
'Magic of Nature: Mystical Moments in Estonian Art'
We visited the Tartu Art Museum (in the same street as the Town Hall) which resides in a building  famously leaning like the tower of Pisa.

The tilting Tartu Art Museum

Downstairs they were showing a review of Tartu's exhibitions over the past few years in photos and text. But there were no paintings so we went upstairs to the second floor where they had on an exhibition of about 50 paintings from the 19th century to now titled 'Magic of Nature: Mystical Moments in Estonian Art'.
It was very enjoyable the variety of moods and colour on display. Mystical? I have no idea what these words mean any more. Nearly all art is mystical on some level as well as scientific and poetic and real and whatever you feel at the time of looking at it. You could equally call this exhibition scientific moments in Estonian art and in the end they're both the same. The artist and scientist both perceive universal patterns and order beyond the physical.
Some artists these days clearly want their work to be seen as scientific as they're embarrassed by the 'mystical'. Not so in Estonia and that's why I like it.
Konrad Mägi 'Landscape with the Sun' 1914-1916 oil on cardboard
The exhibition had two paintings by Konrad Mägi (1878-1925), one of my favourite Estonian painters.
It's post impressionism with a nordic twist. Nature is built methodically and brilliantly. 

Konrad Mägi 'Portrait of Elsi Löo' 1915 oil on canvas
This close up of Konrad Mägi's 'Landscape from Vörumaa'(1916-17) is from an exhibition catalogue I bought from the museum bookshop. It shows more closely how he builds his forms almost like mosiac.

Magic of Nature: Mystical Moments in Estonian Art
Curator: Rauno Thomas Moss
Tartu Art Musuem
Raekoja Plats 18,
Wed-Sun hours 11-6pm
www.tartmus.ee
On from the 27. 3 – 8. 6. 2014
Admission €3, €2 for the first floor only.


I've done a few posts on Estonia. They're on my travel blog.

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