Merike Estna at Galeria Karen Huber / Mexico City

Merike Estna / Mother of Pearls

16 May - 5 July, 2019

Galería Karen Huber
Av. Bucareli #120
Col. Juárez, CDMX

"A painted surface is a real, living form".
- Kazimir Malevich

The central thesis of Merike Estna’s work (Estonia, 1980) is to imagine Painting as a living element beyond its formal and creative expression, or as a visual and historical archive. As direct as powerful, the artist defines "Performative Painting" as a dynamic entity, a common territory in which societies carry out their simplest collective rituals; a space for reflection, spirituality and meditation; and a complex system of layers of materials that are capable of generating the deepest and most intimate emotions in those who experience them. In Mother of Pearls, the nacre, an organic and iridescent material where the pearls are born, is used to continue with her extensive research on the expanded field of painting. This new body of work that was made in the last two years, asks us to understand this medium as a dynamic, utilitarian resource and creator of contexts and physical situations that address the autobiographical, the mythological, the social, and the political.
Within the disarticulation of classical painting strategy, the artist makes use of other materials related to different media such as ceramics or even less orthodox ingredients like beeswax., Stick from the Woods, hints from the Hood is a group of nine beeswax candles that light a space that has been transformed to resemble a church producing a moment of reflection on the role played by bees in the environmental balance and its constant danger of extinction. The metamorphosis of space is complemented by two stained glass windows, History of Broken Glass and Loss, that carefully lit the darken space and whose reference lies in the symbolic importance of the sites destined for spiritual meditation and its deep relationship with artistic representations.
Estna definitively erases the canons that have differentiated the art of craftsmanship by producing objects that can be used for other purposes more relevant than mere admiration. Kneeling banana/angel / flew over my head / on the 7th floor / above the seabed is a performative painting made explicitly to be used as a picnic mat. On the one hand, the artist manages to disarm the nature of the pictorial medium by changing her use of the contemplative to the utilitarian. At the same time, different social and cultural rituals are formulated that emerge in these scenarios when shown in different parts of the world. Furthermore, the paint layers, and therefore their production technique, build a dream scenario and generate a series of additional readings on the nine easel paintings and vessels that complement the main room.
The work of the artist is transcendental to underpin the correspondence between the performance and the pictorial medium. Daily Paintings is a set of dozens of paintings made in 2018, one per day, that testifies Estna's intimate relationship with the medium and the work required to produce it. While each of these pieces tell an independent story with their own characters, styles and plots, together they become a vast compendium of colors, textures, materials and themes that complement the practice of abstract painting and take it to new frontiers.
The relationship between painting and performance is essential to understand the professional production of Merike Estna. This symbiosis acquires a new meaning when exposed in Mexico, where the pictorial medium has been put aside in favor of techniques linked to international conceptualism. Mother of Pearls, proposes a space for dialogue and reflection for generations of artists on the new limits of the medium and its ability to generate a social impact.

Alberto Ríos de la Rosa

Project Manager: Evelyn Raudsepp
Produced with the help of Art Allmägi, Heldur Lassi, Mario Corona
Artist wants to thank: Karen Huber, Andrea Bustillos, Martin Melioranski, Maria Arusoo,  Riinu Rahuoja, Aime ja Priit Estna
Supported by: Estonian Ministry of Culture and Estonian Cultural Endowment    

The exhibition is accompanied with a public program of Hang Outs. On the occasion of Mother of Pearls exhibition by Merike Estna, this series has the objective of generating a dialogue about the production, spread, study and exhibition of the pictorial medium in the contemporary art industry in Mexico and its possible interactions with other manifestations abroad.

Each session is composed of two special guests moderated by the curator of the exhibition who present a case study to then frame Estna's work. The sessions will be held on Thursday 6, 13, June 27 and July 4 from 6- 8pm in the gallery and taking place on top of the the painting ‘Kneeling banana/angel /flew over my head /on the 7th floor /above the seabed’ of Estna. 

Session 1
6th of June from 6pm -8pm
Invited artists: Allan Villavicencio (FUEGO) and Christobal Gracia (Biquini Wax/ El Cuarto de Maguinas)
Production and promotion in independent spaces: what is the role of painting within the collective production that arises in the independent spaces in Mexico? The importance of these spaces lies in how crucial they have become in the generation of new creative proposals and in the professionalization of young artists.

Session 2
13th of June from 6pm -8pm
Invited artists: Elsa Louise Manceaux (France), Lucia Vidales (Mexico) and Ana Segovia (Mexico)
Individual production: seen from the angle of the individual artist, the conversation aims to highlight the currents and problems of approaching painting as a means of expression in emerging artists.

Session 3
27th of June from 6pm -8pm
with Octavio Avendano Trujillo (independent curator) and Karen Huber (gallerist)
Diffusion and commercial positioning: what are the challenges involved in the production, diffusion and positioning of emerging painters from the point of view of the galleries? To this end, Octavio Avendaño Trujillo, curator of the first exhibition of Merike Estna and faithful promoter of young Mexican painters, will be invited to dialogue with gallerist Karen Huber, whose project is closely related with this topic.

Session 4
4th of July from 6pm -8pm
with Paola Jasso (Fundacion Casa Wabi) and Graciela Kasep (independent curator)
Exhibition and academy: the curator of Fundación Casa Wabi Paola Jasso and independent curator Graciela Kasep will be invited to discuss the processes, challenges and exits that encompass the exhibition and study of the pictorial medium in Mexico based on a case of study.

Merike Estna (1980) lives and works in Tallinn, Estonia. She has graduated from the Estonian Academy of Arts with a Bachelor’s degree in painting and from the Goldsmiths College, University of London, in 2009 with the Master’s degree in art practice. Her performative work has been exhibited at Baltic Triennial 13, Give Up The Ghost, Tallinn; Kiasma Art Museum, Helsinki; Performa 17 and Art in General, NYC; Chart, Copenhagen and elsewhere. Her solo exhibitions have been exhibited at Kunstraum, London; Kim? Contemporary Art Centre, Riga; Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn; Bosse & Baum Gallery, London; Karen Huber Gallery, Mexico City; Temnikova & Kasela Gallery, Tallinn and others. She was awarded Konrad Mäe prize, Estonia 2014 and has been an associate professor at the Estonian Academy of Arts since 2017. She is represented by Temnikova & Kasela Gallery, Tallinn and Karen Huber Gallery, Mexico City and is collaborating with Bosse & Baum gallery, London. 
Currently she is preparing for group shows at the Tallinn City Gallery, Estonia and KUMU Art Museum, Tallinn, Estonia as well as for a solo show at Moderna Museet Malmö, Sweden.