Priit Pärn

March 30 – October 21, 2007
Kumu Art Museum, 4th floor, A-wing, Project room


Kumu treats the collection of Pärn’s lesser-known drawings as material that is waiting to be discovered and as a supplement to Estonian drawing culture. An overview of the extensive series of charcoal drawings completed by the recognized animator during the 1990s is also provided by the album entitled Pärnograafia that was published in 2006.


Is the entry of Estonian best-known caricaturist and animator into the sphere of fine arts accompanied by changes in his approach? Whom do we meet at this exposition? Pärn’s charcoal drawings, which in places assume formidable panorama-like dimensions, leave the impression of masterly skill and ability that consigns itself to paper independently of anyone’s volition. The solitary hand bustling at the pile of papers is a surreal artistic mania, as are the countless holey bodies, flying eyes, giant breasts growing out of bodies, and open mouths that wait voluptuously for some offering.


Pärn’s manner of presentation could be called a mocking performance wavering between the pornographic and the poetic. He has drawn that which has come to mind at the moment, although it is true that the experiences of the various artistic genres that have been acquired over the decades are concentrated in these drawings. It is a masterly accomplishment that allows the viewer to become part of a burlesque with a capital B.

“I do not want to say anything with my charcoal drawings. The most important catchword from me when I create my drawings is TENSION.” (Priit Pärn)

The life seething wildly and irrationally on the paper is tense, and although we are dealing with drawings, a film dimension can be found in them. Pärn does not escape from his manner of narrating stories and his characters. In the narratives, one discovers the innocence and complexity of animated films, and playful and grotesque characters have overflowed from the film world.

The hand on the paper does the work of several cameras and records the scenes from the front, back and the side. Often the glance of the artist is nailed to the sky and Pärn’s sky is not the domain of spaciousness. From here women, animals, and body parts threaten to rain down on the viewer. Perspectives are transformed, and sometimes, the viewer lands in a cave-like dark place. There are many table scenes and dramatic quarrelling scenes, although also the fabulous unfolding of bodies and exploratory trips into bodily gullies.


In an interview given to Kumu, Pärn assesses the journey traveled in the name of mastering his drawing skill as long and strenuous. Although film art made Pärn famous, he does not idealize the situation or opportunities of the filmmaker. Film does not leave the artist with free hands, which undoubtedly stokes the dream of true and constant artistic freedom.

Pärn has problems similar to those of the 70s generation of artists, and he is also characterized by the Pop Generation’s exaggerated belief in unlimited imagination. In Pärn’s biography one encounters film-free periods in the 1990s that are filled with ideas of leaving animated films. His energy is directed into another media – into drawing.


The Pärn exhibition will be open through October 21st. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue which, in addition to a rich selection of pictures, includes an interview with Priit Pärn and an essay by Andres Trossek. On May 11th, an international seminar dedicated to Pärn’s work will take place in the Kumu auditorium.