Photo reportage from Jaan Elken's exhibition 'ON_OFF' at the Draakon gallery

March 30, 2022
Author Echo Gone Wrong

Jaan Elken’s personal exhibition ON_OFF in Draakon Exhibition will be open until April 2, 2022.

Jaan Elken: “As an artist, I create worlds that claim to be a visual whole and which intellectually charged coordinates have influenced me in one or another way. The architectonics of metaphorical landscapes has been inspired both by collapsing glaciers and rocky deserts (“Snow Line of the Atlas Mountains”, “Turquoise and Ice”), also by the ruin ensembles of exotic cultures as well as sign systems (“Northern Africa, revisited”, “Morocco”). Aesthetics that poeticizes degradation as well as observes the intersection between the inside and the outside has become less important now; I rather see a million opportunities next to the territories engaged by mass tourism and kitsch industry to map the reality according to my own rules. In 2020–2022 there were no travels to be accumulated into my artwork; however, it lies in the power of a painter to create strong simulations. It is a true physical feeling how the power of the art of painting can be found in emotional high-voltage – I seem to be in trance while sketching the unknown and/or something that lies ahead.”

Jaan Elken (b. 1954) is a painter, art critic (published more than a few hundred articles on art criticism and art policy), curator and art teacher. In 1997-2018 he has been working as a professor of Chair of Painting at the University of Tartu Institute Cultural Research and Fine Art, until its closing, since 2018 he is a Professor Emeritus at the University Tartu Faculty of Arts and Humanities. He has been a member of the Estonian Artists’ Association since 1981. He started his artist career with hyper-realistic paintings in 1970s and has since become one of the most significant abstract painters in Estonian art. Acknowledgements: 2020 AkzoNobel Art Prize; 2011 Ado Vabbe Art Award; 2007 Order of the White Star 4th Class; 2006 Kristjan Raud Art Award; 2002 Sadolin Art Award; 2000 Konrad Mägi Art Award; 1979 Young Artists’ Triennale of the Baltic States, Grand Prix by the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture.

Elken has held more than 70 personal exhibitions, including in the Museum of New Art in Pärnu (2009, 2014), Tallinn Art Hall (2005), Tartu Art Museum (2005), Adamson-Eric Museum (2000), in addition to exhibitions in Berlin, Kiev, Helsinki, Riga etc.

He has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including: 2018 “The X-Files [Registry of the Nineties]”, Kumu Art Museum; 2016 “Cold Look. Variation of Hyperrealism in Estonian Art”, Kumu Art Museum; 2009, 2013, 2015 Nord Art, Kunstwerk Carlshütte, Rendsburg/Büdelsdorf (Germany); 2014 “Tallinn S`Invite À Carcassonne”, Chapelle des Jesuites, Carcassonne (France); 2013 “In between zwischen Energie und Materie”, Alte Oberpostdirektion, Hamburg; 2012 “In Between New Abstraction & New Concretion”, Klaipeda Culture Communication Center; 2012 Art Vilnius’12 International contemporary art fair, Lithuanian Exhibition and Congress Centre (Litexpo); 2011 “Mystics and Moderns: Painting in Estonia before Glasnost”, Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, USA etc.

Jaan Elken’s artwork has been acquired by numerous art collections, including Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, The Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union), CAM_Casoria Contemporary Art Museum (Naples, Italy), the State Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow, Russia), Matthew Bown Gallery (London, UK), European Parliament (Brussels, Belgium), Art Museum of Estonia, Tartu Art Museum, Viinistu Art Museum, Pärnu Museum of New Art and other collections all over the world.

Exhibition by Jaan Elken
Title: ON_OFF
Open: 08.03.-02.04.2022
Draakon Gallery, Pikk 18, Tallinn.
Mon-Fri 11.00-18.00, Sat 11.00-17.00

Photography: Anna Mari Liivrand