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“Memories from Altai Krai” by Liisa Kruusmägi

Liisa Kruusmägi will open her solo exhibition Memories from Altai Krai at Tallinn City Gallery on 25 January at 6 pm. The exhibition unravels the story of the artist's ancestors who journeyed to the vast Siberian region in search of a better life. The exhibition is curated by Anneliis Lepp.  Primarily recognized as a painter, Liisa Kruusmägi shifts her focus to the comic genre in this exhibition, presenting a narrative of migration. The display captures the diverse facets associated with emigration: while Siberia is often remembered in our collective consciousness for the sorrow and tragedy of deportations, Kruusmägi offers an alternative perspective, illustrating the optimistic journey to forge a better life in Siberia. "Having worked in the field of illustration, it was crucial for me to craft an exhibition where images tell a story. Liisa’s grandmother’s written memories provided fascinating material for this purpose. The objective was also to challenge preconceived notions about comics as a form of expression. Comics extend beyond popular characters like Mickey Mouse or caricatures in daily newspapers; they serve as a captivating medium for narrating more profound and serious stories," explains Anneliis Lepp, the curator of the exhibition.

Memories from Altai Krai narrates the tale of the artist’s ancestors who, facing a shortage of land at the end of the 19th century, embarked on a challenging journey to Siberia. Driven by the hope for a better life, they traversed a long and arduous path to Barnaul County in Altai Krai, Central Asia. After numerous stops, they eventually found their home in the midst of the expansive steppe, flanked by mountains, where they, along with other families, founded a village named Estonia.

Comprising drawings, paintings and ceramic objects, the exhibition draws inspiration from the diary of Liisa Kruusmägi’s grandmother, which encapsulates fragments of memories from their time in the Estonia Village, portraying it as a period filled with strenuous labour but also moments of enjoyment. It was an era marked by both joy and human loss.  Liisa Kruusmägi (1988) is an Estonian painter and illustrator. She studied painting as a bachelor at the Estonian Academy of Arts and finished a master’s degree in drawing there in 2013. Kruusmägi has improved herself at the Rhode Island Schools of Design. Her recent solo exhibitions include Cephalopods with Binoculars at Vaal Gallery (2022), Balearic Liisa at Stella Soomlais Studio (2022) and Colours of Corals with Maarja Mäemets at HOP Gallery (2021). Her works can also be seen in the street scene: she has painted large murals on the north side of Paide Pritsumaja and above the entrance of Tops Bar in Tallinn.  Anneliis Lepp (1988) studied art history and visual culture at the Estonian Academy of Arts. She is specialised in children’s book illustration and the relationship between the meaning of the picture and the word. Lepp has collaborated with Estonian Children’s Literature Centre and has written numerous articles on children’s book illustration. 

An exhibition tour with the artist and curator is scheduled for 16 March. The exhibition will be open until 31 March. Additional information: Madli Ehasalu Tel: +372  5621 8422 E-mail: madli@kunstihoone.ee

Tallinn City GalleryHarju 13, 10141 Tallinn Wed–Sun 12.00–00  www.kunstihoone.ee www.facebook.com/TallinnaKunstihoone www.instagram.com/tallinnartha




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