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Jaak Adamson “Two Departures” 06.06.–06.07.2024

On Thursday, 6th of June at 6 pm the retrospective exhibition “Two Departures” by Jaak Adamson will open at Vaal Gallery. The exhibition will remain open until 6th of July, Tue–Fri 12–6 pm and Sat 12–4 pm.


The title of the exhibition refers to the two departures of the artist Jaak Adamson – in 1980 from the then Soviet Estonia to the Slovakian part of the then Czechoslovakia, where he spent the second half of his life, nearly 42 years – and in 2022 from this world.

The exhibition displays a selection of paintings that were left in the artist’s studio and with his relatives after his both departures. In the timeline of these paintings one can observe both the artist’s faithfulness to his creative credo and changes in his style. Jaak Adamson’s creative peak was between 1980 and 2010, when, as an Estonian artist living abroad, he produced quite a lot of art largely for himself. Some of these paintings have never been exhibited in Estonia, and in some cases not even anywhere else.

In 1980, Adamson left his homeland legally and without changing his citizenship but under pressure to do so. He was only an Estonian citizen up until his death. At the demands of the authorities, he was expelled from the Estonian Artists’ Association and “erased” from Estonian art history. However, circumstances soon changed, and he had his first new solo exhibition in Estonia in 1990, a few more displays in later years, but still presenting only smaller-scale paintings. As an artist permanently living and working abroad, he remained away from the art life here, and his “cancellation” also had an effect even in retrospect.

Nevertheless, Jaak Adamson remained first and foremost an Estonian artist. His artworks are specifically situated in the Estonian cultural space and context, and at times can only be understood in this way. Therefore this exhibition is not only about these two departures – it is also a homecoming.


Jaak Adamson (25th of April 1938, Tallinn – the night of 27/28th of February 2022, Slovakia) was an Estonian painter, printmaker, sculptor and art teacher. He graduated from ERKI in 1964, was a member of the Estonian Artists’ Association from 1969 to 1980 and again since 1997. He was a member of the Slovak Union of Visual Arts since 1987. Among the awards he received was the Annual Prize for Painting in 1979.

The exhibition is supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.

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