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Ralf Sannikov's solo exhibition "400"

Nature abhors a vacuum, and the unexpected break between two exhibitions is filled with Ralf Sannikov's expressionist paintings influenced by cubism.
Ralf Sannikov's exhibition "400" is a small island where you can escape from everyday thoughts. An irresistibly strong emotion floods over the habitual world of thought and takes you away from everything else for a moment. A separate world in paintings.

- tARtu store

Every day, I listened to a lo-fi music video presenting the park scene in Tokyo, and I found a calming atmosphere from its slow and drowsy mood. Influenced by this 400-year-old city, I also wrote the description and name for the exhibition.

Foto by: Maria Kilk


From 17 to 29 January, visitors to the tARTu store in the Aparaaditehas were greeted by Ralf Sannikov's exhibition "400". The cubist-influenced expressionistic paintings offered a momentary escape from everyday worries.

In these gloomy, grey weather conditions, everyone is looking for a place to be touched by the sun, if only for a moment. Whether it's a cup of peppermint hot chocolate at your favourite cafe, the radiant eyes of loved ones who have managed to stay healthy despite the widespread spread of the coronavirus, a grade "A" in the Student Information System, or the vibrant, emotion-packed paintings that lure you away from everyday worries for a moment.

Ralf Sannikov?

The author of the exhibition introduces himself as an artist without an art education. This definition seems very important to him, as he wants to be a role model for those who want to realise their artistic dreams but fear that they do not have enough potential. "If an artist without an art education can get somewhere with stubborn consistency and self-belief, then anyone can," he said in an interview for the exhibition (Tartu Postimees, 2022). The nature of the painter, who has also occupied exhibition space abroad during his few years of operation, is imbued into every painting in his exhibition. They tell his story.

Seeing the author sitting against the backdrop of his paintings, even an unknowing eye could discern that it's he who has breathed life into these paintings. There's an indescribable, yet distinctly palpable connection between them that also captivates the visitor who happens to be viewing the exhibition at the same time as the artist.

A Bright Breathing Space

The exhibition hall was white. Radiantly white. Bright. I couldn't describe a space where these paintings could tell their stories better. They seemed at home in this environment – they felt comfortable and open. Open to interpreting the world hidden within them. The artist was right when he said, "An irresistibly strong emotion overflows the usual mindset and momentarily distracts the viewer from everything else" (Sannikov, 2022).

Both the paintings and the visitors had been granted enough breathing space. And mental space, which is also important in exhibitions. Every exhibition visitor is brimming with different thoughts, and to create a pleasant experience, there needs to be a space and atmosphere in which to let these thoughts take flight. Whether these thoughts are related to the exhibition or not. If you want to think about what to make for dinner while visiting an exhibition, how to make boots the most slip-resistant using home remedies, or in which direction the artist has made brush strokes on some paintings, you need to have that opportunity. And that opportunity was ensured at this exhibition.

Family of Paintings

The exhibition consisted of 12 paintings, each telling its own story, but some of the stories were quite similar. The artist himself called these paintings with similar stories brothers. They were painted from the same emotion – embedding the same feelings into the paintings. He has had brothers in his previous collections of paintings as well, and generally, according to the artist, these brothers end up in the same home. Isn't it a beautiful, happy-ending story?

However, this does not mean that paintings that don't have a brother seemed somewhat lonelier. They are still part of the family. This familial belonging, which is the basis of every healthy family relationship, was felt as soon as you entered the exhibition hall. And this family of paintings was like the family of your childhood friend, who always welcomed you with open arms, and where you could enter without knocking because you knew you were welcome. The exhibition "400", a collaboration between the tARTu shop in Aparaaditehas and painter Ralf Sannikov, was the dose of vitamin D that we all need at this time. I am eagerly awaiting the artist's next projects.

Read about it in Tartu Postimees:


Aparaaditehase writes:


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