Tõnis Saadoja. Height Above Sea Level 11/04/2023 – 24/09/2023

Kumu Art Museum

Project Space 1 & 2

Adult: Kumu Art Museum
  • Family: Kumu Art Museum
  • Discount: Kumu Art Museum
  • Adult ticket with donation: Art Museum of Estonia
Tõnis Saadoja. Painting from 2023. Courtesy of the artist
Project space

Tõnis Saadoja. Height Above Sea Level

The exhibition’s title refers to our pain threshold in both ecological and existential senses, and to questions that silently permeate our lives every day. Is my nose still out of the water? Is there enough oxygen to breathe? Is there enough fuel? How long will today last? The world ahead: what will it be like and can we describe it using today’s tools and knowledge?

The museum forms a safe space, easily relatable to the past. Its rows of paintings arranged on timelines, its controlled climate and its location a safe distance above sea level are signs of a peace treaty between the worlds of yesterday and today. The near-hysterical realities of today are kept away from here, and yet the timespace at the museum is always fictional, and different ways of representation and reading are closely entangled.

The artworks in the museum’s permanent exhibition are like windows into different timespaces, revealing glimpses of multi-layered worlds. Art has always been surrounded by a complex and controversial environment. At the same time, we construct the past largely through two-dimensional images. Paintings on museum walls function as flashes from the past: sites of memory that guide us like beacons. These paintings also had the role of guiding landmarks when they were created, long before today’s abundance of images.

The works in this exhibition were largely inspired by these sites of memory. As such, they represent painting as repetition, painting as preserving traditions, painting as merging different picture modes, and painting as a way to find peace.

My paintings carry a nostalgic feeling, as they combine experiences from different eras. They are inspired by the topical issues of today, and by views of landscape and the environment, juxtaposing and merging the traditions of landscape and still life painting.

The display in two project spaces is a journey through my personal arsenal of paintings, which includes fleeting improvisations and searches for denser composition. The symmetrically placed project spaces resemble two spacious sound boxes on both ends of the permanent exhibition of Estonian art, Landscapes of Identity

The painter Tõnis Saadoja’s solo exhibition Height Above Sea Level is part of the museum’s environmental programme Art in the Age of the Anthropocene in summer 2023.

Graphic design: Tuuli Aule
Coordinator: Magdaleena Maasik
Technical support: Tõnis Medri, Allan Talu