Jaan Elken is a painter, art critic, curator, and art teacher. He started his artist career with hyper-realistic paintings in 1970s and has become one of the most significant abstract painters in Estonian art.
Elken has held more than 60 personal exhibitions, including in Adamson-Eric Museum (2000), Tallinn Art Hall (2005), Tartu Art Museum (2005), in Berlin, Kiev, Kotka, Uppsala, Turku, Riga etc.
His works belong to the art collections of the Art Museum of Estonia, Tartu Art Museum, Museum of Tartu University, Tallinn Art Hall, Viinistu Art Museum, Tretyakov Gallery, Norton Dodge Collection / Zimmerli Art Museum, European Parliament, CAM – Casoria Contemporary Art Museum and many other collections around the world.
He has published more than 200 writings on art and arts policy. Elken has been the head of Estonian Painters’ Union (1995-1999) and the president of Estonian Artists’ Association (1999-2013). Since 1997 he is a professor of the Chair of painting at The Institute of Cultural Research and Fine arts at the University of Tartu.