Lola Liivat. Spiritual resistance.

An overview exhibition displaying the works of the living legend of Estonian abstract painting Lola Liivat will open in the Tartu Art Museum on 8 September. In addition to works from Liivat’s nearly 70-year-long artistic career, the exhibition will also include works by painters from a younger generation. The exhibition, which covers the first two floors of the museum, will stay open until 6 January.

Lola Liivat is one of the most important developers of Estonian abstract painting and was one of the first practitioners of abstract expressionism in Estonia. Liivat worked under Soviet rule for a large part of her career, when abstract art was disapproved of or even forbidden.

The overview of Liivat’s oeuvre is part of the “living legends” series, which has previously included the works of Enn Põldroos, Malle Leis, Mare Mikoff and Peeter Allik. The exhibition offers an overview of Liivat’s career, from the works she made during her studies in the 1950s up to paintings that have been completed recently, focusing mainly on her abstract works.

Additionally, a small selection of works by a younger generation of artists who currently paint abstracts are exhibited. These are Liisi Eelmaa, Merike Estna, Liis Koger, Laura Põld and Mart Vainre. The choice of works mainly offers different representations of painterly abstractionism.

The title of one of Liivat’s works, “Spiritual Resistance”, which is used as the title of the exhibition, references her artistic position and her creative journey. It reflects her contemplative nature and the need to resist different surrounding conditions and to weather the storms that arise. Liivat has succeeded: through various pursuits and finally finding her own handwriting, she has left a clear and unique imprint on the history of Estonian abstract art.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a sizeable catalogue containing articles that analyse Liivat’s oeuvre and its various contexts, an interview with the artist and short texts by young authors about the relationship they have with abstract art. The catalogue also contains reproductions of the exhibited works.

Compiler: Hanna-Liis Kont; articles: Liisa Kaljula, Hanna-Liis Kont, Susan E. Reid and Tõnis Tatar; graphic design: Martin Veisman; 200 pages, Estonian and English.

The educational programme that accompanies the exhibition contains workshops that reveal various facets of abstract art, and museum lessons where the historical role of abstractionism is discussed, as well as its meaning and influence in the contemporary world. Information about educational programmes and booking: kristel@tartmus.ee.


Lola Liivat. From the Depths of Water. 1969. Mixed media. Private collection.

Participating artists: Lola Liivat, Harry Colman, Liisi Eelmaa, Merike Estna, Liis Koger, Laura Põld and Mart Vainre

Curator: Hanna-Liis Kont

Coordinator: Kristlyn Liier

Exhibition design: Laura Põld

Graphic design: Martin Veisman

Owners of the exhibited works: Art Museum of Estonia, Estonian Theatre and Music Museum, Tartu Art Museum, University of Tartu Art Museum, Viinistu Art Museum, Erich Kõlar, Toivo Tasa and private collections.

Exhibition team: Richard Adang, Nele Ambos, Tanel Asmer, Merli-Triin Eiskop, Joanna Hoffmann, Mare Joonsalu, Margus Joonsalu, Signe Kivi, Arvi Kuld, Maria Johanna Kull, Heiti Kulmar, Jaanika Kuznetsova, Anti Saar, Kristel Sibul, Peeter Talvistu, Kristo Tamm, Ago Teedema, Urmo Teekivi and Piia Õunpuu

Thanks: Brigit Arop, Iti Kaasik, Liisa Kaljula, Reen Liivat, Raido Pedak, Elena Poznjak-Kõlar, Kaire Nurk and Tiiu Talvistu

Supported by: Cultural Endowment of Estonia

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