Marita Liivak’s new exhibition opens tomorrow at the Victoria Olt Gallery
Text Mark Taylor Photos Victoria Olt Gallery
On Thursday, May 4 at 7 p.m., Marita Liivak’s exhibition “Lasnamäe – Beginnings and endings” opens at the Victoria Olt Gallery in Tallinn. In the exhibition, visitors can find paintings that encapsulate the views, landmarks and nostalgia of the city district.
The title of the exhibition is inspired by the artist’s experiences in the Tallinn district of Lasnamäe. One of the most iconic pieces in the exhibition, shows boys dressed in Adidas tracksuits playing tic-tac-toe on the pavement in front of the legendary Kotka store, which was considered the first supermarket in the Soviet Union – it is still open today.
In the exhibition, visitors will find paintings of views which are important to Liivak, and which she hopes will offer a little humour, a lot of eye candy and heartfelt feelings.
“I was walking in Lasnamäe on a late summer day, when my heart was warmed by nostalgia and I recalled the easiness of childhood. For some, Lasnamäe is a scary place where people ask for a cigarette and give a beating – or the good old joke “Have a beat? Want a smoke?” – but for me, it is the place where my school was located, my best friends lived, I experienced my first love and my grandparents still live today. But the notoriety of Lasnamäe is partly true, so the exhibition was born from the idea of juxtaposing colourful childhood memories with the surrounding reality. Lasnamäe will always be a home for me, but I have seen more than one puddle of blood and made several sprint records for unexpected surprises lurking around the corner,” explained artist Marita Liivak.
While on the surface this might look simply like an exhibition of cityscapes, gallerist Victoria Olt finds this to be conceptually strong.
“Liivak reminisces about the childhood she spent with her cousin, whom she recently lost, so the memories have acquired a bittersweet undertone. It is notable how she paints Lasnamäe with such bright colours, still. You can almost transport yourself there with the artist, playing at the skatepark or waiting at the bus stop, back to when the days of childhood seemed so interminable. But at the same time, the soul of the exhibition can’t escape terminability, which arrives like a wrecking ball to disrupt this innocence and nostalgia. This exhibition, while so bright, speaks on the grayscale of emotions that comes from loving a place that you hate, and missing the time you had with a person, whose memory seems to be confined there.”
Marita Liivak has studied painting both at the Pallas University of Applied Sciences in Tartu and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Catania, Italy (BA).
The exhibition will remain open at Victoria Olt Gallery at Viru 20 in Tallinn until June 24. The gallery, which is open from 11 am to 7 pm each day, is free to enter. As part of the Tallinn Old Town Days on June 2-4, there will also be a guided exhibition tour of the exhibition with the artist.