Paul Kuimet

Paul Kuimet is a young Estonian visual artist whose works are garnering praise around Europe. His art pays attention to spaces and their potential meanings. During the spring, summer and autumn of 2012 Kuimet photographed more than 100 monumental paintings in public spaces throughout Estonia. The result was the book Notes on Space and an exhibit of the same name exhibited at Kumu last year. This was the first time that the history of Estonian monumental works of art was recorded. Kuimet’s photos frame the works in their urban and spatial context, while also highlighting the rise and fall of this art in Estonian public space during the 20th century. His pictures are a series of 38 black and white photos which not only capture but enhance the viewers’ understanding of context for these publicly commissioned works, which were intended to inform attitudes and social norms in Soviet Estonia and are fading from memory. The appreciation of Soviet cultural products is not without a strong dose of nostalgia for older Estonians and a measure of kitsch for the young. Kuimet’s pictures avoid these sentiments. His photos of these decaying works are a commentary on cultural obsolescence, all the more poignant for their lack of overt emotional content. Kuimet’s pictures can also be seen to address historical process and the creative destruction of post-Soviet Estonian capitalism. Images of stained-glass works and religious murals from the interiors of empty churches speak of the Christianity that never entirely found a home here, the Lutheranism that departed with the Baltic Germans and postmodern agnosticism. Many of the Soviet-era wall murals have since been covered by advertising or painted over all together. Some of this socialist art was of high caliber and has been thoughtlessly lost. Paul spoke with Tallinn Arts about his methods and aesthetic sense for documenting a vanishing cultural legacy. The color photos in this article come from Kuimet’s solo exhibition “Viewfinders”. Urban environment and the formation of an identity of place are at the heart of these works. The centerpiece of “Viewfinders” was “Kairo Street”, a photographic installation of eight pictures set in light boxes that depict homes in the Toukola district of Helsinki.

#art #photography

Featured Posts
Recent Posts