The starting point of our presentation is the seemingly blithesome nature of play, as seen through the eyes of two artists working in distinctly different media.
The starting point of our presentation is the seemingly blithesome nature of play, as seen through the eyes of two artists working in distinctly different media. Siiris Jüris with new works from her series based on Estonian games. Karl Dunér with his film cabinets The Draw, Thread and Draw White – works with references to games and puppetry. Both artistic expressions that at first glance seem simple and lighthearted.
Jüris’ artistic practice centers on exploring universal and connective themes, often inspired by cultural and historical perspectives. Her latest work explores Estonian folklore and combines personal memories and interpretations with folk tales, games, and beliefs. Through zoomed-in game and action snippets, she constructs mystical environments where human bodies are scarcely discernible amidst biomorphic forms and digital-looking patches. These collage-like landscapes of vibrant hues unite abstract, classical, and digital visual languages into a singular whole.
Her paintings are created through an intuitive, slow, and layered process, in which the acrylic material is treated as an active agent, allowing unexpected forms and patterns to emerge. She uses the vibrancy and dullness, fluidity and transparency of the acrylic to create a strong visual experience, combining ‘classical painting techniques with arts and crafts and post-internet aesthetics.
Siiri Jüris' presentation. The room can be divided into two distinct sections: personal and pure folklore. The wall displaying the three paintings titled Skipping Stones, Clapping Game, and King of the Hill takes a more inclusive and personal approach. The action snippets depicted in these paintings are broad and not limited to a specific location; rather, they represent games that are widely enjoyed worldwide. However, all three paintings incorporate Lake Peipus and pay homage to Estonian art history. I drew inspiration from Aili Vint's color schemes and incorporated elements of Ülo Sooster's forms from his painting “Lips” (clapping hands form together a shape resembling clams = lips = female anatomy = flowers). Furthermore, I aimed to infuse a microscopic dimension into these paintings, forming the wave-like shapes so that not only would they resemble water, but also plant cell patterns.
The wall displaying the painting titled On Midsummer's Eve at midnight, the glowing flower of the fern appears for one minute, bringing wealth and luck to its finder, while Vanapagan plots to obtain it from his shelter under the ferns represents folklore. Although it is not explicitly a game, some suggest that this tale was created to provide a discreet opportunity for lovers to escape the crowd and spend time alone. However, it is also shared with children as a fairy tale. Magical flowers with similar properties are not uncommon; numerous cultures in the Baltic Sea region and worldwide have some stories involving magical plants that bestow good fortune. Nevertheless, the story revolving around ferns is quite distinctive to Estonia and there are even broader beliefs and associations attributed to these plants.
For instance, it is believed that sitting near ferns and creating a cross in one's surroundings enables seeing the future. Additionally, ferns serve as protectors for Vanapagan (resembling a Devil but not the Devil) against wolves and lightning. When a person ventures into the forest with the intention of finding the flower of the fern, Vanapagan will go to great lengths to thwart their efforts by placing numerous obstacles in their path. If someone accidentally discovers the flower, Vanapagan begins plotting how to obtain it from the person. Typically, when there are deals involving magical items that bring luck and fortune, the price is high for the receiver, for example giving away their soul. However, with the flower of the fern, the individual is granted freedom and can simply enjoy their growing wealth and luck without any burdensome conditions.
Siiri Jüris (b. 1992) is a Swedish-Estonian painter, currently living and working in Uppsala, Sweden. She holds an MFA from the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm (2021), as well as an MFA in painting from the University of Tartu (2017). Jüris has participated in many group exhibitions, mainly in Estonia, but also in Sweden, Germany, Slovakia, and Lithuania. She was one of the finalists for the Young Painter Prize in both 2019 and 2021, and in 2020 she won the “Young Tartu” competition. Jüris’ solo exhibition matter that (em)bodies was held at the Tartu Art Museum in February 2021, and her solo exhibition as the day fades into midnight hues opened on November 11, 2022 at Galleri Duerr.
Karl Dunér (b. 1963) is a Swedish artist and theater director. As a visual artist, Dunér has exhibited at, among other places, Prins Eugen’s Waldemarsudde, Vandalorum, Kristinehamn Art Museum, the Swedish Institute in Paris, Berlin, Dublin, Freiburg, Brussels, Yokohama, and Tokyo. and most recently Ping at Benhuset Katarina Kyrkogård and Paraboler at Galleri Duerr. Dunér also designs the scenography for his theatre productions. Since Dunér’s first exhibition of mechanical sculptures in 1997, a large part of his work has revolved around Memory and the Art of Memory. Duner’s mechanical sculptures can, for example, be seen as a kind of memory capsule where neither sound, light nor movement can be repeated. The sculptures remain themselves, but the action that takes place inside is constantly changing. The idea with his first sculptures—and all since then—is to be able to consider them as a kind of performance where everything that happens is determined and controlled by the sculpture itself. The theater is also often present in his works, with many works being seen as actions, scenes and happenings. Recurring materials are film, photo, audio, mechatronics, painting, puppet mechanics, audio and papier-mâché.
For Market Art Fair 2023 we will showcase Dunér’s film installations The Draw and Draw White – works with references to games and puppetry. The Draw – Dragningen consists of a film that is divided over five film cabinets in an aluminium housing, a format reminiscent of an aircraft’s “black box”. The film is seen through a 50 mm thick piece of Plexiglas, filling the entire cabinet, becoming a kind of time window with the eternal and futile striving to move forward. The film itself is a single strenuous action in which a small wooden figure tries to climb a ladder in front of an arched painting. The figure’s plan is to get from the first film cabinet to and past the fifth. The difficulty turns out to be significant. The narrow span means that the figure always falls off and has to start new attempt – a reference to Sisyphus’ punishment and single-minded striving. The figure is a carved wooden figure which was probably once part of a wooden chair or table. In The Draw, the movement is no longer controlled by invisible mechatronics, but replaced by a highly tangible player who, with the help of a tool, tries to pull his figure forward. “In the theater i often devote myself to the concept of the void – for example, the pause between two lines or between two scenes in a play. What happens in the dialogue if the one line is not immediately followed by an answer but is delayed? When the size of the pauses lengthens, the characters of the roles begin to crack and finally the performance itself is keeled. The strange thing is that after a certain pause is stretched to the point where the show “stops” and then stretched out a few more seconds, the show flows back in again. It is as if the dead or stalled performance begins to “live” again. This strange effect focuses on the boundaries between role and actor, between game and non-game, between action and void, between thought and emptiness”.