This is the largest full-scale Okas retrospective so far; it celebrates his extraordinary work produced during the 26 years of an intensive artistic career. Jüri Okas is known amongst the general public as one of the most famous Estonian architects. The exhibition at Kumu focuses on Okas’s outstanding work in the field of art.
Jüri Okas has stated: “When a building – or a society – is being constructed, it goes through a state in which it is practically impossible to determine whether this building is being constructed or demolished. […] the structural composition of all my pictures and installations is an attempt to convey this feeling of being poised on a knife’s edge.”
Jüri Okas is one of the artists who in the late 1960s and early 1970s set out to overthrow previous values: the principles of art-making drawn from modernist aesthetics. Okas helped pave the way for photography, installation, video and land art. His art has drawn inspiration from architecture, its stages, the relationship between form and formlessness, and the rational and irrational.
Okas’s activity has been associated with Conceptual art: in the early 1970s (he graduated from the Art Institute as an architect in 1974) he started creating land art works and performances and shot about a dozen 8 mm films, all of which provided material for his prints later. With his works and actions Okas abandoned traditional practices of art-making and aesthetics and created an entirely new art discourse, by relying on philosophical principles which put as much importance on viewing and understanding as on the artwork itself.
This Kumu exhibition will continue the popular series of classics of the Estonian avant-garde (after the exhibitions of the work of Tõnis Vint and Raul Meel).
A book accompanying the exhibition will be published.
For information about public art programmes, click here.
The exhibition will remain open until 27 August.