Kaupo Kikkas’s “Statue” exhibition shown at Solaris Gallery in Tallinn

Estonian photography artist Kaupo Kikkas on 3 August opened his photo exhibition, “Statue”, at the Solaris Gallery in the Tallinn city centre; in cooperation with make-up artist Õnne Rudi, top Estonian athletes were turned into human sculptures, bringing to life the beauty ideals of ancient Greece.

“A statue can be the base of an entire structure as well as a highlighted cult object at once. In the next moment, it is just a pillar or someone’s future pension,” Kikkas said in a statement, introducing the exhibition.

“The ‘Statue’ is my worship of classical ideals of beauty that have endured for thousands of years and inspired artists throughout this time. In Estonia, there is no cult of sculptures typical of old cultural countries, and the few we have – there are constant problems with them too. Be it a cross, an obelisk or a bronze man (a reference to the Soviet war monument that in 2007 was removed by the Estonian authorities from the Tallinn city centre, an act that caused street riots by thousands of local ethnic Russians – editor),” the artist said.

“In my own way, I filled this gap in monumental art with a living human body instead of stone as the material to be carved. They have all the good qualities of a statue but lack the coldness and inhuman perfection of stone. It is a divine material that every artist dreams of molding,” Kikkas added.

An exhibit from Kaupo Kikkas’s “Statue” exhibition.

The exhibition was originally prepared in honour of the IFBB Classic Bodybuilding World Championships that were held in Estonia in 2011, and after the first presentation in Estonia, the exhibition was presented to the head office of the World Bodybuilding and Fitness Association. Therefore, the exhibition could only be seen in Estonia for a short time, and now ten years later, the exhibition will finally be re-presented at the Solaris Gallery.

The models of the exhibition are bodybuilders from the Estonian national team, who also won the world team championship title in the same year: Imre Vähi, Janar Rückenberg, Ott Kiivikas, Indrek Viska, Martin Münz, Marti Taru, Oleg Anissimov, Raigo Kuusnõmm and Meelis Susi.

An international photographer

Kikkas is well-known for his portraits of some of the most famous Estonian classical musicians, such as composer Arvo Pärt and conductors Paavo Järvi and Kristiina Poska. 

The artist received his formal training in photography at Finland’s Visual Arts Institute but attributes his classical music portraits to his education in that field – he learned to play clarinet and saxophone and also took singing lessons.

Kaupo Kikkas, private collection.

In addition to classical music portraits, Kikkas’s personal photography projects include a study of graveyards, a portrait series of shale miners and images of a lost cinema in the Egyptian desert.

Kikkas has also photographed a number of book and classical music album covers and frequently works in London, Berlin and in the US.

The exhibition “Statue” is open at the Solaris Gallery until 14 August 2022. The gallery is located at 12 Rävala Street and is open from Monday to Friday from 12 pm to 6 pm.

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