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'Wild Souls' exhibition on Baltic symbolism to open in Tallinn

The exhibition was initially opened at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
The exhibition was initially opened at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. Source: Karel Zova/KUMU

Initially on display at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, "Wild Souls" is opening in KUMU in Tallinn on Friday. The exhibition displays more than 100 works by notable artists from the Baltic countries dating from the late 19th century to the 1930s.

Included is art by Janis Rozentāls, Vilhelms Purvītis, Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, Kristjan Raud, Nikolai Triik, Konrad Mägi, Oskar Kallis and other important artists of the period in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The curator in charge of 'Wild Souls' is Rodolphe Rapetti, also famous for his research of symbolism.

Four museums in the Baltic states contributed artworks to it, including the Latvian National Museum of Art, the Art Museum of Estonia, the Lithuanian Art Museum and the M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art, also in Lithuania.

As KUMU writes about the exhibition, "Local young artists set out to discover the contemporary art movements in Europe, but also had aspirations to help create their own national identities. Their art often intertwines the international artistic idiom with local folk art and symbols of oral heritage."

Baltic symbolism brought the concept of creative freedom in from Western Europe. The emphasis of the spiritual world by the symbolist artists is expressed in the exhibition's three main themes: myths and legends, soul, and nature.

"They express the artists' interest in romantic narratives, people's individual inner worlds and the mystery of nature. The artists delved into their homelands' narratives and searched for ways to interpret ancient stories in a contemporary artistic idiom," the museum writes.

The Ministry of Culture contributed to the exhibition as part of Estonia's cultural programme in its centennial year. The exhibition was first opened as part of the international programme at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.

'Wild Souls' is unique in its exhaustive treatment of the Baltic states' symbolist artists and is accompanied by a voluminous catalogue as well.

Wild Souls. Symbolism in the Art of the Baltic States, KUMU Tallinn, 12 October 2018 to 3 February 2019. For more information, please visit KUMU's website.

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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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