Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Fun and Funk Printmaker: Estonia's Tarrvi Laamann

Oh my, there's somethin'  happenin' in Tarrvi Laamann's work. On first glance, Laamann's bold colors appear not too carefully printed, maybe leaving the purists of this medium a little cold, but really folks, there is something in the way his 'doesn't care' about the limitations that sometimes come with tradition that is engaging. There's an absolute respect for the medium he's chosen to work with, but also a break with tradition which is a welcome breath of fresh air. He may or may not be aware of the visual lineage with German Expressionist prints, but he doesn't mind overlapping blocks to create a more complete final impression. This print above with the classic stare of a sensual woman inter-spliced between erotic fronds is arresting. The viewer's eye glances over the colors, but clearly returns to the woman's gaze. Simply done, the vertical lines which break up the space open the space surrounding her to dimensions of time. 
Laamann's latest images juxtapose a sort of rendered portrait of a familiar figure with loud, linear over-printings that jar the senses. The vibrations created with these off-set printed backgrounds throw off any sensibility for order. The portraits are the only anchor in this work of fun and funk. They are brash and evocatively remind us of music  - in Laamann's case it is reggae, but I also hear and see the evocations of a distant Arthur Dove painting interspersed. 

The raw and sensual rhythms pulsating throughout Laamann's work make me interested to see what's happening beyond these shimmering 'glimpses' he's provided us. There's more to the story, as one would find Asian art. We know there's more around the corner of the composition he's given us, but he's chosen to show us only a snippet of the main event - as Chinese and Japanese paintings and woodblock prints allude to. The image below shows us a catwalker with the music blaring in the background. Surely there is more for us to see, but he's given us the prime target for our viewing pleasure. What more could one want?
The following two images are  nicely composed and we get a nice dose of divinely endowed religious homage (with God's blessings via sun rays)and tropical gaming chance via sunny palm trees and dominoes. 
Lastly, Laamann's interest in music and DJ-ing are a part of his personal interests, and so the wonderfully simplified image of records and vinyl ensues and we are transplanted to the era of Jamaican Bob Marley & the Wailers' tunes and sunny shores. 
These images seem out of character for an artist living and working in Estonia. We western artists think mostly of Estonia as being one of the former eastern block republics that were once a part of the dismantled USSR, but in truth Estonia has always been culturally and artistically a little on the rebellious side. It may have something to do with the location of Estonia having access to several western countries. They have been a much-maligned and fought over territory between the east and west for centuries, but in 1991 Estonia re-gained its independence and joined the EU in 2004. Artists like Laamann have enjoyed a fair amount of celebrity within the region and Scandinavian territories, but their visibility to the outside artistic community is still a far cry from where it should be. I am encouraged by the bravado of Laamann's work, and look forward to seeing its migration to the global artistic arena. 

1994-1998 Estonian Art Academy (graphics)
1998-2000 Estonian Art Academy (MFA)
2001-2001 ”Professional Skills for Instructors” IATA (Geneva)

2000- 2006 Tartu Art College (department of General Subjects teacher)
2007- 2008 Estonian Art Academy (Teacher of composition)
2010-xxxx Estonian Art Academy (Teacher of woodcut printing)
2011-xxxx Tartu Art College (Teacher of woodcut printing)

Exhibitions (selected):
1995 ”Etching” Olavi Gallery, Tallinn, Estonia
1996 ”Kümme Härga” Raatuse Gallery, Tallinn, Estonia
1997 Art Academy Gallery, Helsinki, Finland
1997 ”Tarrvi Laamann-s Revelation” Estonian National Library, Estonia
1998 ”Young Estonian Paintings” Nõmme Cinema, Tallinn, Estonia
1998 Porvoo Art Hall, Finland
1998 Sammas Gallery, Tallinn, Estonia
1998 ”International Midigraphics”, Pärnu
1999 Estonian Art Museum ”Pühamu”, Tallinn, Estonia
1999 Bolivar Art Gallery, Jamaika
2000 ”Dream of The Provincial Girl”, Sopot, Poland
2004 ”Laamann-s Juju” Tallinn City Gallery & Pärnu Art Gallery, Estonia
2009 ”Laamann-s Caribbean Juju”, Viimsi Sea Museum, Tallinn, Estonia
2009 ”Inernational Portraits”, IBL Art Gallery, Mauritius
2010 The 5th International Rokycanske Biennial in Graphic Arts, Czech Rep
2011 ”Laamann-s Abstrakt Juju”, Genialists club gallery, Tartu, Estonia
2011 ”Estonian Contemporary Printmaking, Eduard Wiiralt 2011” Tallinn, Estonia
2011 ”Ketju-Chain” Joellan gallery, Turku, Finland
2011 “Xylographie” Viljandi, Estonia
2011 “Juju” Helsinki, Finland
2011 ”Loovala Küllus” Estonia
2012 ”Ksülograafia & Tarrvism” Narva Muuseumi Kunstigalerii, Estonia
2012 ”Graphica Creativa 2012” Jyväskylä, Finland
2012 ”Muster” Von Krahli Galerii, Tallinn, Estonia

1997 ”Revelation Book” from Bible
2010 ”Lauldud sõna”, Veljo Tormis

Public Collections:
Estonian National Library, Estonia
Washington D.C. Congress Library, USA
Jamaican National Library, Jamaica
Estonian Art Academy Library, Estonia
Matti Miilius Collection

Estonian Art Academy
Estonian National Culture Fund
Rokycanske Biennial 

Estonian Artist Association
Estograph - The Association of Estonian Printmakers

address:  ”Raadio 2”, Gonsiori 21, 15020 Tallinn, Eesti
phone: +37 256 210 511

1 comment:

  1. Respect for thoughts and words!
    Big up and bless. :)