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Lüüs’ lurking ghouls

TALLINN – until 7 June, Hobusepea Gallery

A quick post about the current exhibition at Hobusepea by Urmas Lüüs, which is only on for one more week.

As the exhibition text explains this is an exhibition that has grown out of the artist’s experience of losing his grandmother in 2020 and then slowly and painstakingly dealing with all the earthly aspects of a life lived through many eras, no doubt experiencing war, occupation, loss, poverty and old age.

The exhibition, which starts upstairs with large photographs of the artist wearing his grandmothers handcrafted linens as ghoulish masks, is pretty clear as a re-creation of a typical grandmother’s home, and so in some ways visitors do not really need to read the exhibition text at all to get the point – or do they?

Downstairs the gallery space has been divided up using what looks like typical Soviet era furniture, possibly direct from his grandmother’s flat. The resulting spaces are domestic, intimate, familiar and familial.

Yet that is where the personal and the familial ends because the way Lüüs has treated this re-created space, it seems to me, has more to do with the process of creating an exhibition than it has to do with grieving and loss. The reason I feel this way is that the ghoulishness that begins upstairs in the photographs continues like a thread both conceptually and in many cases physically through the objects and micro installations downstairs. And it seems to me, that unless this really is an expression of some dark aspect of the artist’s relationship with his grandmother, in which case a more careful analysis is warranted, the exhibition is more about presenting a collection of wearables and non-wearables, while the grieving process has simply led on conveniently to a thematic framework, which would also be equally at home in Dr Frankenstein’s laboratory.

But then, there is the exhibition text, which reads like this is an honest heartfelt endeavour. So, you tell me – how should we read this? My own feeling is that the artist has identified opportunities to add a sense of drama and in many cases even melodrama, and unfortunately, has not also realised that while these elements add an edgy-ness to the show, they also undermine the potential for something really extraordinary.

For me the jury is still out, and the exhibition is still on, until 7 June. Why not have a look for yourself and add your thoughts in the comments section below.

Posted by Michael Haagensen

Urmas Lüüs

Until 7 June

Hobusepea Gallery, 2 Hobusepea St, Tallinn

Wed–Mon 11am to 6pm


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