Artist Anna Kõuhkna: Embrace all sides of life

Anna Kõuhkna, an Estonian artist, spoke to Estonian World ahead of the opening of her latest solo exhibition, “My darling shadow, my darling light”, at the Endla theatre’s gallery in the Estonian resort town of Pärnu.

Kõuhkna’s paintings focus on women’s souls and nature. In autumn 2020, she had a solo exhibition at the Solaris Gallery in Tallinn; on 6 May, she opened her new solo exhibition, “My darling shadow, my darling light”, at the Endla theatre’s gallery in Pärnu.

Anna Kõuhkna opened her new exhibition, “My darling shadow, my darling light”, at the Endla theatre’s gallery in Pärnu.

“My darling shadow, my darling light” is your fifth solo exhibition. What would you say this is about?

In this series, I am dealing with thoughts and feelings of the duality in this world. At some point, I started to feel there was a holistic way of seeing what was happening inside or outside of us. I would say I used to see things mostly in black and white or good and bad, which did not always serve me the best way.

Now, the point is to connect dualities and to see as whole. This takes away the weight of wanting everything to be only good and even makes me question if we always know what is good. Maybe the best thing is to embrace all sides of life and our own strangeness as well?

I do, of course, believe that, in the core of everything or more specifically, in every person, there is something divine, pure love-like, but in the layers of this material life, there is also everything else as well. In myself, and in others and the world, I began to acknowledge sides that I had judged as ugly and did not want to see – or if I did, then hated it for existing. How big a difference it can make to also love the ugly and find meaning in it. The interesting thing is that when the shadow side is loved, it tends to dissolve, because the perspective or the filter for observing it has also changed.

Anna Kõuhkna, “Altering” (2021).

What experience and thoughts do you hope visitors will take away from viewing your new exhibition?

I feel like that is not for me to say. Whatever a person needs, they will get. I always trust the right people discover my work at the right time. I think by now, I even have proof of that happening all the time.

My main intention with painting is to spread feelings of light, but that is not my strict hope for the viewers to feel it this way. Every person will see what they need and want, that is something every artist must be okay with in the most beautiful and accepting way.

Anna Kõuhkna, “The door” (2022).

What else are you currently working on?

I don’t know if I can call it the most interesting, but it is unique in my experience – my master’s thesis in art education. I have been working on it for a year now and plan to graduate in June. It is something that has been horribly difficult to work on for a person like me, but at the same time – how many other times in my life I get to play the academic? Might as well take the best experience I can from it.

And of course, I am always working on new paintings. Even when writing my thesis, there are five paintings that are unfinished beside me.

Anna Kõuhkna, “Nyx” (2022).

Where else can we see your artwork now?

There is a group exhibition by the Estonian Painters Association currently running in Pärnu – called “Love Story”, at the Museum of New Art, featuring few of my paintings.

Other than that, there will be some exhibitions coming up in 2023, which I will keep a secret from now.

Anna Kõuhkna, “Next steps” (2021).

“My darling shadow, my darling light” by Anna Kõuhkna runs at the Endla theatre’s gallery until 2 June 2022.

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