Tallinn City Gallery 1.XI – 25.XI 2012
Jaan Elken takes the well-known story of the personal tragedy of Christ and its global spectacle as a starting point. During the last centuries the biblical narrative has grown out of its traditional ways of expression and conventional spaces of display and found new adaptions in the repertoire of the superstars of postmodern culture — in the ouevre of the French artist Orlan, Webber’s rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” or Madonna’s performances among her devoted fans.
With this humanistic narrative as basetext Elken develops both his personalized visual memory and the visual flow of images broadcast by mass media to achive a binded texture for his paintings. One can synchronically look for the Soviet deportation tragedy that is retold by Estonians now and then with an almost masochistic pleasure or the catastrophies of New York World Trade Center and Phuket tsunami that were converted to worldwide spectacles by the international news services.
The design of the City Gallery exhibition has Mark Rothko’s chapel series in Houston Texas (USA) as an inspiration. In this sense the paintings constitute a whole. But each one of them is the result of the spiritual, mental, emotional and bodily experiences during the process of painting and with their interaction with the canvas, the paint, the text and the musical background. The morbid colouring and the graphical style accentuate the text on and in the paintings. The letters on the surface of the painting make up the intellectual framwwork of the works, its semiotic field and provide the possible associations of the viewer with ambivalence. The exhibition is both a memorial and a Bacchanalia. (Text: Eero Kangor)