2014, The Museum of New Art in Pärnu, Estonia
“Image and Word” is a collection of Jaan Elkens work from the period 2012-2014. Starting point for the exhibition is the variation in sensory experiences that text and image/signs create in the viewer. What then happens when the connotations of particular texts occupy foreign/other cultural material? The exhibition challenges the resistence and cultural independence of rap lyrics, mixing classical Chinese ink painting, expressive abstractionism, the melting pot of urban graffiti art, all in a monochrome key. In this, the painting becomes a horizontal space for deconstructing dichotomies and creating new constellations.
Elken exhibits also one of his symbolic works, “Seagull”, from 1982. At the time a politically bold painting, it is a metaphore of Estonian isolation from the ‘free’ world. The shadow of the seagull casted over the Tallinn-Helsinki ferry Georg Ots hints of the glass wall creating boundaries and barriers, signifying both a political separation but also a collision of the biological and technical world. In the exhibition, Elken has created seven modulations of the painting. These redefine the abstraction by showing Elkens interaction with reality through various social and visual parameters.