NewsPRESS RELEASE 30.10.2015
Classics. Peeter Kuutma
Peeter Kuutma (1938), a classic Estonian textile artist, has a unique position in the Estonian art scene. Kuutma has been active for close to 50 years, creating printed fabrics, tapestries and interior designs as well as exhibiting and teaching.
Kuutma stands out among Estonian textile artists due to the breadth of his themes including architectural motifs, social change, the power of nature and the changing quality of light. Kuutma is known for his geometric style – his abstract rugs are decorative while also being charged with a message.
Kuutma completed his studies at the State Art Institute of the Estonian SSR in 1966, after which he worked in the Punane Koit textile factory (1967–1987), at the same time making designs for the Art Products Factory ARS.
A great many of his fabrics were used in the interior design of new and rebuilt public buildings such as restaurants, hotels and others.
His first major collaboration with interior architects was for the Gloria restaurant (1968). In Tallinn, Kuutma’s work could be found in the Rae café (1970s), the Regatt bar in Pirita (1979), Tallinn Airport café (1974–1975), Kännu Kukk restaurant hall (1973), Intourist Hotel Tallinn bar (1978), painted fabrics in the Kevad restaurant on the fourth floor of the Tallinn Department Store (1973, 1980) and the Kalinka restaurant (1978). Many textiles designed by Kuutma also reached north-eastern Estonia, for instance the canteen in the Narva Power Plant (1977), Baltika restaurant (1970s) and Vikerkaar café (1974–1975) in Narva.
A typical feature of Kuutma’s textiles is large floral motifs or geometric ornaments. Silk-screen technology was used for most of the textiles.
In addition to printed and painted textiles, Kuutma also designed jacquard textiles. In the 1970s and 1980s, many of Kuutma’s textile designs could be seen in the products produced by ARS and in public interiors – Kuutma designed curtains for Ugala Theatre in Viljandi (1981), the Estonian Drama Theatre (1983), the Russian Drama Theatre (1984) and the Endla Theatre in Pärnu (1986).
Kuutma began designing tapestries in the late 1970s, specializing in weft-faced weaving. Kuutma is quite unique in Estonia in that he has consistently pursued geometric abstraction. Crystallized moments from nature and urban environments in his works are skilfully reduced to geometric, analytically refined forms, where colour accents the emotion.
As he entered the field of tapestry making, the artist also continued to work with interior architects. Some of his largest commissions include: “Narva – mälestuste linn” (Narva – City of Memories) (1995, 2x5m) in Narva City Council, “Virumaa valgus” (Virumaa Light, 1988, 3x7m) in Haljala Community Centre, the “Sidevaip” (Communication, 1985, 3x7m) designed for Tallinn’s main post office conference hall, and the five-part 10-metre wide “Nägemist, mäed“ (Farewell, Mountains) for the former Bank of Tallinn on Harju Street (1989–1993).
In regard to renovation projects in prestigious public buildings, Kuutma participated in the project led by Leila Pärtelpoeg for the Estonian Parliament building where he designed rugs, and the project led by Juta Lember to renovate the Office of the President of Estonia in Kadriorg where Kuutma restored two rugs – the Arne Mõttus armorial tapestry and a flossa rug by Adamson-Eric that had been shown at the 1937 World Fair in Paris.
Besides his work as an artist, Kuutma has been constantly active as organizer and teacher. His work as a public servant started when he became secretary of the Artists Union board. Between 1987 and 1994, he worked in the art department at the Ministry of Culture. His work as drawing and composition teacher at Tallinn Art School started in 1994. Kuutma is part of the Vaba Tahe (Free Will) group, the core idea of which is to carry on the traditions of weft-woven tapestries.
The Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design textile collection contains about 18 tapestries and 39 fabrics by Peeter Kuutma. In addition to the museum collection, this exhibition presents two of the artist’s grander works from recent years – tapestries for the Rotalia Fraternity in Tartu and Tallinn, the tapestry “Põhjala” (North Country) that hung for many years in the official meeting room in the Office of the President of Estonia in Kadriorg, and also the artist’s latest wall piece prepared in 2015.
This exhibition also presents designs and photographs of his interior textiles.
Curator: Helen Adamson
Exhibition design: Mari Kurismaa
Graphic design and catalogue: Denés Farkas
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