UNDER CHESTNUT TREES
4, 2017 - February 4, 2018
portraits by Finnish artist Elina Brotherus
Mark Soosaar: A
little girl under huge chestnut trees. Their
blossoms are like candles in a church. The
girl is standing on the crossroads of four
paths. What is she dreaming of?
Elina Brotherus: It is the spring of
1998. I am a third year student of photo
art. I feel like at the very beginning. I
have not yet participated on any exhibition.
All I know about photo art, it is based on
the slides of my teatchers or what I’ve seen
in some foreign magazines. I have already
taken photos of other things besides
schoolwork. My examples are two girls from
my course – Aino Kannisto and Maarit
Hohteri. They take photos of themselves. I
learned to use an old 4x5 camera, I like the
sharpness of its picture and the slowness of
the work. As I want to be in the photo
myself, I have to use the stand. I want to
make large photos, so I need large
In this picture, I have recently got married
and I am going to divorce in half a year. I
do not know it yet but the divorce is in the
air, already. I now want to make landscapes
with myself. To save emotions, which can’t
be escaped from. This is what my first
series has got a name from – Landscapes and
Escapes. Blooming chestnuts refer to Tove
Jansson. He drew them often. I grew together
with Tove’s books.
At first, my mother used to read them to me,
later on I spelled them by myself. In the
school canteen there was a large painting of
Tove Jansson. I can only remember the
blooming chestnut tree. The same autumn I
got a scholarship from the Swedish Cultural
Foundation. A nice gentleman called and
spoke in Finnish. It was Bengt von
Bonsdorff, the director of Amos Anderson’s
Museum. He told me, that they can give money
but they’d rather buy some of my pictures
for the collection of the museum. I remember
going to his workroom, to the dim light of
the table lamp. The elderly director of the
Swedish-Finnish museum was very friendly.
Most of all he admired the blooming chestnut
trees of Hesperia park and showed the house
where he had lived in his youth. And he
bought the very picture for the museum’s
MS: You have
studied soul and body of a Finnish woman.
What have You discovered in her inner world?
EB: I do not believe in the soul and I
am not interested in the body in any other
way than aesthetically.I do not believe in
Finnship or any other nationalist trends. I
live in several places and travel to more
places. My home is in several countries and,
simultaneously, I am a bit of a stranger
everywhere. I object to the world of walls
and barbwire as boundaries.
MS: If You were
elected the President of Finland, what would
You like to decide at the first?
EB: I would dismiss the government and
the parliament, organize new general
elections, and make a prime-time speech on
TV where I would ask the people make
conclusions on the events in Finland and
think more wisely, who would be worth voting
for. Then I would resign and name Li
Andersson the President.
MS: Your art is
full of beautiful sounds. Who is the
composer of Your inner tunes?
EB: My inner composer often plays the
record by Kate Bush – the Areal: A Sea of
Honey/ A Sky of Honey. The music of my
videos is composed by Antti Ikonen. On
harpsichord I love to play Frescobaldi.
was born in Helsinki, 1972. She graduated
from the University of Helsinki with Msc in
Chemistry (1997) and from the University of
Art and Design of Helsinki with MA degree in
Elina lives and works in Helsinki, Finland,
and in Avallon, France.
EB is one of the most highly respected and
awarded photo artist from the North of
Europe. Her self-portrayals reflect an
immense silence, lonelyness and longing for
love of a Nordic woman. Art work by EB has
been in exposed in many museums and
galleries of France, Belgium, UK, Canada,
USA, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany,
Finland etc. Her masterpieces were obtained
for such respectable collections as Centre
National des Arts Plastiques (CNAP, France),
Hasselblad Center in Gothenburg, Kiasma
Museum of Contemporary Arti in Helsinki,
Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Museum Folkwang
in Essen, Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, to
name a few. In 2017, she donated 11
brilliant self-portraits to the Museum of
New Art in Pärnu.
Elina’s work has been given prominence in
numerous art books and magazines. She has
published eight monographs, the latest one,
Règle du jeu (2017), was the object of a
solo exhibition at the Centre Pompidou,
Paris. She has been awarded, among others,
the Prix Mosaïque, Luxembourg in 2001, the
Prix Niépce in 2005, the Finnish State Prize
for Photography in 2008 and the Carte
Blanche PMU, France in 2017.
Elina’s exhibition A Girl Under Chestnut
Trees in the Museum of New Art in Pärnu
(2017/2018) is dedicated to centennials of
Republics of Finland and Estonia. In the eve
of the show, Elina gives a master class to
open secrets of her creative world.
AN ESTONIAN WOMAN
4, 2017 - February 4, 2018
exposition by Estonian painter Meiu Münt
Soosaar: Estonian woman is hit in dramatic
positions and tragic colours in your
paintings. What is she thinking about?
Meiu Münt: For me, it is important to
show the inner world of a young woman and a
mother – most of all her feelings in
different situations, different moments of
Woman with her mysteriousness, beauty,
mysticism and magic has been in the centre
of my paintings of the recent years. The
characters encountered on the paintings hide
contemplations about the fragility and
desuetude of life, fugacity of everything
but also about nascency, growth, maturation
of the new, about the cycle of nature.
Remembering and emphasizing the uniqueness
and sacredness of every life I find
inspiration for painting from life, from the
people around me and next to me. I might
give a lot of explanations „just in case“
about my paintings but eventually, every
person can see and hear what he or she wants
to. Depending on his or her experiences in
life, views, comprehension, and personality,
your paintings you have depicted insight of
Estonian woman. What have you discovered in
her body and soul?
MM: As to her essential nature, the
woman is beautiful and fragile, caring but
sometimes she may be confused, unhappy, sad.
The woman is the symbol of life and love as
well as the epitome of blood and suffering.
MS: If you
were elected the President of Estonia which
problem would you solve first?
MM: I’m sure no president would be able
to solve any general problem. Every human
has to do it according to his or her life
MS: Your paintings are full of voices and
sounds. Which melody or rhythm is the link
between them? Who is the composer of your
M.M.: Melancholic sounds – the eternal
flow of river waters, the fall of dust in an
empty room, the sound of cat’s paws on cool
linoleum of a corridor, comforting sound of
the wind in the tree-tops... Every person
creates his or her own inside music.
was born in 1972 in Tartu.
She studied at the Art School of Tartu, at
Tartu University (BA/MA)
She lives, paints and works as an art
teacher in Tartu.
MM sees the Estonian woman and her story
through dramatic colours.
Blood-red has many meanings in various
beliefs of the nations of the world. From
beautiful to scary. And the other way round.
Everyone has to take a look inside him- or
herself and find the answer.
MM has shown her work in Estonia, Finland,
Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania.
Her paintings can be found in the Art Museum
of Tartu, and in various private
MM fs solo exhibitions of the recent years:
Intuition at Draakoni galerii in Tallinn,
Paintings at the Physicum in Tartu, 2016
The Flight at Lev ja Leevike in Tartu, 2016
Before the Snow at the Town Gallery of
External Side at Karlova Theatre in Tartu,
Visions at the Town Gallery of Tallinn, 2015
Visions at the Town Gallery of Võru, 2014
Deja vu at the Artists f House in Pärnu,