Collage by Merike Estna.

Merike Estna, Ghost of the future, filled with memories of past, 2019 © Image courtesy Merike Estna studio. Graphic design Martina Gofman, photography Marta Vaarik

Merike Estna

Ghost of the future, filled with memories of past

26.10 2019 – 26.1 2020


Merike Estna’s installations bring together painting, sculpture and performance, with the viewer often becoming a natural part of the work. The oeuvre of this idiosyncratic artist is being presented in Scandinavia for the first time, in a solo exhibition where abstract imagery meets seemingly simple motifs taken from folktales and mythology.    

Merike Estna has discussed and tested the limits of painting as both idea and action over a long period of time. With her expressive style, the Estonian artist unites an abstract visual language that seems to be taken from our digital age with motifs from myths and folk tales. In her work, an inviting openness converges with an understated sense of humour, examining the tradition-laden structures that have come to be associated with the medium of painting in particular.

The painterly medium is allowed to expand beyond frame and canvas, taking over both the exhibition space and the human body. The works occasionally function as props or objects and take the shape of benches, tables, floor or wearable items of clothing. Through social and performative elements, the viewer is coaxed into mutual, at times subtle participation.

Merike Estna also introduces handicraft techniques, such as ceramics, into her installations. Through her choice of motifs, creative processes, materials and poetic titles, the viewer’s understanding and interpretation is led in several different directions including philosophical, political and personal dimensions.

In Merike Estna’s work, painting becomes a living, fluid substance with unforeseen possibilities, and where the spiritual meets the material. Her work seems to be as much about the specific medium itself as the attitude and freedom that permeates both the process and the social structures that come out of it.

Merike Estna (b. 1980) lives in Tallinn where she is associate professor at the Estonian Academy of Arts. The exhibition at Moderna Museet Malmö is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Scandinavia. It combines artworks from recent years with works created specifically for this context.

Curator: Andreas Nilsson


Painting by Merike Estna.
Merike Estna, Bath for the vulture, filled with memories, my last, 2019 © Courtesy the artist. Photo: Stanislav Stepaško

More about this exhibition