Epifanio
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Eestikeelsed artiklid

EDITORIAL

EPIFANIO RECOMMENDS

RARITIES IN MY RECORD COLLECTION
Rhythm Doctor

A FEW WORDS ABOUT DIGITAL GRAPHICS OF SINDY ILVES

FIELDS AND OPPORTUNITIES
Mait Vaik

PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST. JUKA KÄÄRMANN
Mehis Heinsaar

INTERVEW WITH JÜRGEN-KRISTOFFER KORSTNIK
August Künnapu

SHAKING OFF THE SHACKLES OF PREJUDICES IN ART
Vilen Künnapu

LIFE AND WORK OF KALJO SIMSON
Helen Kooviste

INTERVIEW WITH JAMES JOHNSTON
Harry Pye

TEAM

Shaking off the shackles
of prejudices in art

By today, the solar system has moved to a point in universe where it has never been before. This point has an extremely high energy vibration, which changes the whole world. People change, their awareness opens up considerably; they become conscious of a much broader amount of energy clusters. Human environment changes as well, as do the organisation of states, economy, science, medicine, art and architecture.

Old paradigms are no longer valid in art and architecture. Occasionally it seems as if everything is being replaced with something else. Such changes are usually realised by certain exceptional people who operate outside the mainstreams and are different. People like that are not necessarily well known in their lifetime, but they are nevertheless figureheads in crucial evolutional turning points. In the current piece I will examine a few creators who operated or are operating outside the mainstream’s comfortable agreements. We also talk about everything else that characterises our time.

Lindude söötja

Kaljo Simson. The Feeder of the Birds.
Oil on cardboard. 92 x 123 cm 1980ies

Lilac-yellow-pink bears were running in the dreamlike landscapes of his paintings, together with dogs, swans and naked girls, who often had wings and were flying.

Let us start with Kaljo Simson, whose work is extensively introduced in this issue of Epifanio. I remember him from 1967. I was a first-year student of architecture at the State Art Institute, and Simson was in his second year. He was much older, kept himself to himself, a mild and also a stubborn man. Rumour had it that he was one of the prototypes in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s story “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” – the Estonian prisoner in the camp, a very positive character. Kaljo was different in everything. The art group SOUP and us were keen on Western trends such as brutalism, pop art and theatre of the absurd, whereas Kaljo Simson’s work was much more in the fairy-tale mood. Lilac-yellow-pink bears were running in the dreamlike landscapes of his paintings, together with dogs, swans and naked girls, who often had wings and were flying. Boats sailed on yellow lakes, with weird flying contraptions above them. Crazy colours, baffling characters – all this totally differed from our West-oriented art image. A more serious conflict emerged between Lapin and Simson, where the first accused the other in a newspaper article of unscrupulous decadence and having no principles; the other called the first and his friends idolisers of the West and piano wreckers (in a letter to the rector, I think). On the whole we made fun of Kaljo, myself included.

Üle vilja

Kaljo Simson. Over the Crop. Oil on cardboard.100 x 132 cm 1980ies

Looking back today, I realise that it was us who were slaves to the mainstream – arrogant mainstream brats, as they have always existed and exist today. We mostly relied on American and British pop art, whereas Simson’s very own style resembled the then non-existent Italian transavant- garde and German Neo-Expressionism. He seemed a harbinger of upcoming art, just like Neo Rauch, Sandro Chia or Peter Doig, but 20 years earlier. Heino Mikiver who had also returned from a prison camp, was a jolly and boozy companion, hugely popular among young students, whereas reclusive Kaljo was considered definitely odd. He was not much interested in architecture and this was one reason why our paths did not later cross. I remembered Kaljo Simson years later, at the end of the 1980s when I started going to Finland a lot and also became friends with the chief ideologue of Finnish modern art back then, Carolus Enckell. Carolus was the one who properly introduced me to the principles of transavantgarde, which was all the rage in Finland then. I suddenly remembered Kaljo Simson and I understood why he was so irritating all those years ago. I recently learned that Simson was not totally unknown in Finland, taking part several times in overview exhibitions of Estonian art. Another 20 years later, and I started to paint in rainbow colours, and another 10 when I met Kaljo’s daughter Helen. She is a shaman having read history and theology at university – copy of her father in appearance and in behaviour. Her healing songs and drum solos suddenly enabled to understand the essence of Kaljo. I realised that all remarkable artists are either consciously or subconsciously movers of energy – shamans. The stronger the energy the mightier the pictures. Look at Van Gogh or Picasso, for example.

Lindude söötja

Kaljo Simson. Certitude and Jealousy.
Oil on cardboard. 92 x 123 cm 1980ies

Now to a new topic. In two summers, 2016 and 2017, I participated in an event in Lithuania called “Constructive Shamanism”. My task both times was to project an energy tower and build it up in the spirit of shamanism. The first camp took place in the woods in eastern Lithuania, on the land of the former president Vytautas Landsbergis’s son, also named Vytautas; the other on the flatlands in western Lithuania. Besides my tower, two wooden objects were constructed as well by Finnish architect Marco Casagrande and Norwegian architect Hans Petter Bjornadal. The week when the objects were being built was full of lectures, songs, rites and meditations. Participants included artists, architects, businessmen, healers, shamans, etc. The second undertaking happened a year later in the farm of shamans Vilma and Einars. This was a particularly powerful event, where a 14 m energy tower was constructed, designed by me and my assistant Ristjan. A workshop of energy painting led by August Künnapu also took place. The event culminated in a nocturnal shaman rite, where one participant was the most powerful shaman in Lithuania, Vaidas. I had never seen anything so powerful before. Vaidas in the shaman outfit danced and beat the drum until he became a non-human, i.e. energy vortex. He was supported by three shamans with drums, tower-builders-artists and a dog who were all sitting around the bonfire. I had a long chat with Vaidas next day. Among other things he said that my towers also possess a huge power.

Estonian art is indeed a strange synthesis of Christian traditions and shamanism. Look at, for example, Konrad Mägi and Karl Pärsimägi. All the dynasty of the Vint family – the works of all five (Tõnis, Toomas, Maara, Aili, Mare) have a strong element of magic. The path of mysticism and magic are continued by Tõnis Vint’s students; one of them, Sven-Erik Stamberg, is featured in the current Epifanio. Tõnis and I had a joint exhibition in Leeuwarden, Holland, in 1991. My contribution was an image of a big white house together with a metal fence and cloud. The interior of the house was filled with Tõnis’s magical pictures. Destiny brought us together – it cannot have been by accident.

Havi saak

 

A painting was rather an aid, a vehicle for reaching something mystical.

 

Kaljo Simson.
Catch of Pike
(Passion of Fishing).
Oil on cardboard.
50 x 65,5 cm 1960ies

Besides pursuing the profession of an architect, a number of my students at the Tallinn University of Applied Sciences also have aspiration in art. Mention should be made of Eva-Maria Gromakovski, who has become a noted film artist, also Ahti Sepsivart and Sindy Ilves, represented in the current Epifanio. Sepsivart’s magic graphic art reveals elements of an architect’s rational thinking and a state where space and time are absent. Ilves’s computer graphics are joyful works, full of lightness and freedom. The works of both young artists are highly contemporary, at the same time relying on some ancient knowledge. In my opinion, the art of the future is something along these lines. In ancient times, not a single cave painting was produced just for nothing. A painting was rather an aid, a vehicle for reaching something mystical. I believe that painters of the future will paint energy that they see. They derive strength from places of power, dreams and gifts of the spirits. Creating their timeless works they get in touch with something that intoxicates them, sends them through walls and enables contact with the infinity. By joining our ancestors’ shamanic powers with today’s technologies and know-how, the artists once again become wise men and women, healers and mages. One day art will shake off its shackles of prejudices and becomes real.

VILEN KÜNNAPU
architect and artist
vilenkunnapu.pri.ee