My current painting practice has been very much influenced by my geopolitical origins. I was born in 1979, in the former Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic, then part of the Soviet Union, an era which has always fascinated me with its paradoxes and peculiarities.
Much of my imagery is directly taken from Soviet Estoniaís women's magazine Soviet Woman As Judith Butler says: Masculine and feminine roles are not biologically fixed but socially constructed. Soviet Woman created images of femininity according to the communist ideology of work ñ women as hard working comrades of Soviet society. The source material I work from dates from 1955 to the 1980s; I usually select photographs which feature women hard at work in traditionally masculine milieus like farms, factories and construction sites. I choose my references quickly, working from a gut instinct; then I convert the selected image into what I loosely describe as a paintingí (I am currently questioning this term, as the works can also be seen as collages or even, perhaps, sculptures). I abstract the imagery from the original photograph to create simplified shapes which emphasize the workers and the act of working, not the work being produced.
My technical work method has also been influenced by my background. I make the works in a craft-y process; some of my methods are time-consuming, laborious in a way which, I have come to realize, reflects Soviet ideas about the value of labour. Even though the regime had changed by the time I began my working life, the same ethics around work and working continued to implicitly influence society, myself included. While acknowledging this influence, there is also an element of play in my work which reflects my resistance to that ideology my need to do things in a different way to what I should do.
In these works, I seek to create a tension between the logic of should and the logic of play. I try to use paint, not as it should be used as a medium to be applied to a surface using specific tools, but as a form-able, tangible, almost sculptural medium ripe for manipulation. My paintings are collaged from dried layers of acrylic or household paint, which I manipulate at different stages of drying ñ by scraping, folding, cutting, drawing into and building up. My work is distinguished by a palpable use of surface textures cast as paint. I often manipulate the context of mass-produced materials and divert them into figurative artworks. The paint in this way becomes the surface as well as the medium. I often try to make the paint look like some other material, e.g., wool, wood or stone ñ frequently as a playful response to the materials represented in the source photographs. Some of my paintings are built up by collaborating collage techniques and traditional handcraft, such as basket weaving, knitting and crocheting. There is no conscious match between these techniques and the activities depicted in the images; I like to allow a certain randomness, happy accidents, to creep in.. I also use traditional handcraft tools, icing nozzles, fingers and hair combs, and I shape some of the simplified elements in the images (e.g., grass) in the same way I was taught to make them in the kindergarten. These approaches reinforce the playful qualities in my working process a counterpoint to serious Soviet ideas of work.
In construction, the works often take on three-dimensional forms with varying textures and colours. I usually base the colour of my paintings on the original magazine photos, but de-saturate them ñ emphasizing the shapes in the image and the texture of the paint.
born: 1979, Estonia
National College of Art and Design, BA, 2015
Royal Dublin Society Concert Hall, Dublin, Ireland, Discover Ireland Horse Show, 2015
Royal Dublin Society Concert Hall, Dublin, Ireland, Student Award Show, 2015
Royal Dublin Society Concert Hall, Dublin, Ireland, Student Art Awards, Monster Truck Studio Award, 2015
'Fresh Paint Magazine': International October Issue 9, p. 34-35, 2015
'Irish Arts Review', Autumn Issue (September-November 2015), Ireland, Dublin, Article by Gerry Walker 'Art's New Wave', p. 391, 396-397
selected group shows
Season 12 FRESH PAINT Exhibition, Manifest Gallery, Cincinnati, Ohio, 25 September - 23rd October 2015
SCOOP Art Auction and Exhibition, Lighthouse Cinema, Dublin, Ireland, 10th- 30th September 2015
Saw Dust, MART Project Space, Dublin, Ireland, 28th-30th August 2015
Degree Show, National College of Art and Design, Dublin, Ireland, 12th-21st June 2015