Hobusepea Gallery, Tallinn: New coat of paint

New coat of paint

MAROS KRIVY (1981) will open his personal exhibition New Coat of Paint in  Hobusepea gallery at 5pm on March 20th, 2013. Within the exhibition, two events will also take place: lecture „Bright colours in Estonian architecture: between 1970s and today“ by Andres Kure, held at 5pm on March 22nd; and debate with young architects who design new facades for panel buildings, with the participation of Kadri Reinumägi, Karel Kask and others, chaired by Maros Krivy – that will take place at 6pm on March 25th.

The exhibition presents author's art-research project New Coat of Paint. It brings together older works, selection from ongoing works, and new works prepared specifically for the show. The overall theme is the use of colour in architecture and urban spaces under the post-socialist condition; the specific focus is on the process of refurbishing prefabricated appartment houses in Central and Eastern European housing estates. The refurbishment is usually analysed, discussed and represented in pragmatic terms of what brings the most substantial savings on energy: the practice of insulation, whereby concrete panels are laid over with layers of polystyrene, polyurethane, and mineral wool. Yet, the interest of the New Coat of Paint project lies in the politics of colourful facades added on top of the insulating layer. During the last decade, housing estates in Central and Eastern Europe have been covered in a flamboyant and patchworked mixture of yellow, orange, pink, violet and green colours.

But how is this colour boom governed and regulated and what does it say about the ongoing, postsocialist, social and urban transformations?

The contrast between grey and colourful is of a particular interest here. In everyday language of the post-Soviet era, housing estates and prefabs have been described as 'grey'. The meaning of 'greyness' bears implicit negative connotations – anonymity, boredom and desolation. In such context, colourful facades embody a promise of happiness, which is to be found in the ideals of architectural variety, diversity and singularity. But is today's utopia nothing more than the undoing of the utopia of modernist and post-war times, the colours undoing the greys, the ideals of singularity undoing the ideals of collectivity?

Ultimately, therefore, the introduction of colourful variations on prefabricated panel buildings leads to a fundamental question: what is the status of architectural object under the post-socialist condition?

The colourful facades express the architectural ideals of difference, variability and diversity, but they even more express the refusal of the former ideals of equality, homogeneity, and universality. To paraphrase Jean Baudrillard, the repainting of panel facades with flamboyant colours suggest an ideal of architecture as a singular object. In our case, the ideal is to make a unique panel house with limited means and to differentiate it from its urban context, defined by similar panel houses.

At the exhibition, the author's strategy is never to show the new colourful facades 'directly'. The experience shows that such encounter is usually met with an immediate aesthetic judgment: how beautiful! how ridiculous! Thus, the new facades are represented 'indirectly': they are reproduced in black and white and the names of colours are listed on the side, the colour patterns are redrawn on a millimeter paper, or the colour maps of housing estates are produced.

Two events will be held during the exhibition – lecture “Bright colours in Estonian architecture: between 1970s and today” by Andres Kurg and debate with young  architects who design new facades for panel buildings. Together with these events, the exhibition aims at making a step towards a more contextual urbanistic, architectural and sociological understanding of the phenomena.

Maros Krivy

Exhibition will be open until April 1th, 2013.

EAA Hobusepea Gallery,
Hobusepea 2,
10133 Tallinn, Estonia

Comments are closed.