Herman Talvik 100

December 2, 2006–March 11, 2007


The exhibit is dedicated to the 100th birthday of Herman Talvik (1906-1984), one of the greatest visionaries in our art history. His deeply personal work with ecstatic-religious feelings based on spiritual experience has a singular place in Estonian art.


Herman Talvik’s character became evident already in the second half of the 1930s and the beginning of the 1940s, when, alongside the finely nuanced landscape painting he earlier cultivated, his distinctive visionary-symbolic visual idiom started to take shape. Numerous charcoal and chalk drawings and monotypes, in which the artist deals with mystical themes that depart from real time and space, date from this period.


In 1944, Herman Talvik moved to Sweden. There he became one of the most outstanding personalities on the overseas Estonian art scene, who, as a free-lancer was one of the few Estonian exile artists, who was able to participate significantly in Swedish artistic life. In the subsequent decades, he developed his works in the direction of ever-greater maturity, inner freedom, and spiritual clarity. At the center of Herman Talvik’s visionary work, we find universal human and philosophical meditations—life and death, faith, hope, and salvation, permanence and transience. He gives these subjects a fervently suggestive visual interpretation, often with extraordinarily multi-layered fields of meaning, by masterfully using a contemporary artistic idiom.


Herman Talvik has worked in very different graphics techniques—linocut and woodcut, lithography, etching, aquatint, and drypoint. He has created delicate drawings, as well as splendid monotypes and paintings. His ecstatic temperament came to the fore in the powerful distinctiveness of his black-and-white graphic art as well as in the fiery blaze of color in his monotypes and paintings.


The “Herman Talvik 100” exhibit includes the artist’s paintings, monotypes, and graphic art from the collections of the Art Museum of Estonia and the Tartu Art Museum, as well as private collections. Many of the works that have recently arrived from Sweden are exhibited for the first time in Estonia.


The curator of the exhibit is Kersti Koll and the exhibit is designed by Tiit Jürna.