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Water is an Eternal Witness. Colour Indigo

Kristi Kongi
Curated by Šelda Puķīte

17.5.2024 — 3.8.2024

OPENING

17 May at 18.00

DINNER AT THE GALLERY

16 May at 19.00
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It’s scary. The storm is hissing. Waves are brutal. The wind is whistling and the cold is lonely.
Everything is apocalyptic.

Etel Adnan

 

In the depths of the internet, one can find plenty of random videos that capture natural disasters. One such video shows an indoor swimming pool full of water standing still as if waiting for something. Suddenly, bigger and bigger waves start to build until a huge one pushes the water body out of the pool, taking over the rest of the space. While this dramatic scene was originally caused by a sudden earthquake, the turbulence in nature that caused this great spectacle can also serve as a visual metaphor for the mind’s changing from a state of calm to one of agitation. In her latest solo exhibition at Kogo Gallery, Kristi Kongi uses water as a strong poetical symbol to explore the beautiful fragility of complex emotions and builds an imaginative world in the form of aquatic landscapes.

Like water, Kongi’s artistic approach can be described as fluid and in constant motion. The motives and compositions float and develop instead of rapidly changing. Her sight is fixed on certain horizons, which she studies with the help of light, colour and shadow-like forms. Some landscapes emerge as patterns and grids born from observations of urbanistic sites, others as subtle colour gradients found in the sky. This time, her gaze is turned toward the water, which has become a source of her observations during her frequent swims. When the sun pierces through the water to make it particularly transparent, Kongi sees what she describes as windows. A certain world starts to form in her mind, and she carries this to her studio, where it reappears on her canvas.

For the artist, the sky is a universal symbol since it connects everybody, while water is a more complicated entity that is often perceived as mystical, divisive and scary. Even somebody like Kongi, who enjoys it greatly, tends to think of water whenever she experiences anxiety. Water contains a certain memory, the roads that explorers have taken and the wars that have been fought. It can save yet also drown, keeping the swallowed remains of our history in the depths of its belly. The aggression of the Russian Federation in Ukraine and its threats towards NATO and neighbouring countries create unease in the Baltic States, which leads one to look at the water also as a symbol of hope, a door or a bridge to cross in case of emergency. Taking into consideration biological, historical and very personal relationships with the water, the artist has created a project that is a safe space, a therapeutic pool to dive into.

The exhibition – constructed from oil paintings, cut-out silhouettes and small poetic notes – is loaded with complex feelings. It depicts visions, emotions, storms and breezes that live inside the artist’s mind. The sky, so often used before as artists’ source material, seemed too harmonious to fit the anxieties haunting her mind. Water, though, seems a good metaphor for the exploration of healthy and not-so-healthy thoughts. The artist’s new paintings take on different shapes and forms to depict the water surrounding her. The typical vibrant colours become more deceptive, even toxic. As the logical next step comes the urge to describe this. And so the poems emerge. “My mind is floating. Like the sea. You see?” All to find a secure place to be.

The exhibition’s paintings depict anxiousness as well as calmness and hope. The more turbulent ones incorporate shapes of human hands that are in constant flux. They are depicted in motion just like seaweed as it floats in the water. This motif continues in the space itself, recreated as an immersive canvas covered by indigo blue and turquoise colours. Two sculptures – silhouettes of cut-out hands in floating motion – emerge from the gallery floor with small poetic notes framed inside them. These poems can be read as footprints of emotions or entries from diaries. The smaller paintings are smoother, more organised and calm – metaphysical landscapes that share the motif of open doors, indicating a way out, a hope. In between it all, some works are just depictions of underwater life, as if the storm has passed, and the light lets us see things clearly again.

Water is an Eternal Witness. Colour Indigo imaginatively transports the underwater realm to the surface, where visitors can enter and dive into Kongi’s world. One can drown in anxiety to only later resurface and find the way out. It is a therapeutic process for the artist that has the potential to become a collective healing.

 

The exhibition is part of Kogo Gallery’s this year’s programme Performing Existence. The gallery’s programme is designed to capture a certain vibe that embodies the emotional undertone of the events and questions topical in that particular moment and which define the contemporary zeitgeist. This year, Kogo is in dialogue with the European Capital of Culture Tartu 2024, its programme being titled Arts of Survival. The gallery’s previous exhibition programmes have been titled Ecology–Economy (2021), Past is the Present (2022), Queer It Up (2023).

 

FUNDERS AND SUPPORTERS

The exhibition is funded by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia and the City of Tartu.
Special thanks to Caparol Eesti and Tanker Brewery

 

TEAM

Curator: Šelda Puķīte
Production and public programme: Stella Mõttus
Communication: Karin Kahre, Kristlyn Liier
Installation: Siim Asmer
Gallery space preparations: Karolin Konrad, Karoliina Tomasson, Melissa Tihhonova, Elisabet Vasur
Documentation: Marje Eelma (exhibition), Stanislav Stepaško (artworks), Nele Tammeaid (opening)
Graphic design: Aleksandra Samulenkova
Translation and language editing: Refiner Translations

Works
Oil on canvas , 100 × 100 cm, 2024
Oil on canvas , 65 × 70 cm, 2024
Oil on canvas , 55 × 45 cm, 2024
Oil on canvas , 55 × 45 cm, 2024
4000 € - Reserved
Oil on canvas , 55 × 45 cm, 2024
Oil on canvas , 55 × 45 cm, 2024
Oil on canvas , 70 × 90 cm, 2024
Oil on canvas , 55 × 45 cm, 2024
Oil on canvas , 130 × 130 cm, 2024
Sold
Installation, acrylic on MDF, plexiglass, 2024
Installation, acrylic on MDF, plexiglass, 2024

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