Merike Estna (b. 1980) lives and works in Tallinn. She has been active in the Estonian art scene since early 2000s, first participating in the informal Academia Non Grata performance scene, and later acquiring a BA in painting and attending Interdisciplinary Arts MA classes at the Estonian Academy of Art. Following her studies at home, Estna relocated to London in 2007, where she studied at Goldsmiths College and finished an MFA Art Practice degree in 2009.
Estna’s early works were characterised by their dark mood, subdued and heavy colours, and narratives infused by an idiosyncratic humour. Childhood scenes, sexually explicit portraits of both men and women interchanged with landscapes and seascapes. Perhaps the ever present abundant use of paint already then revealed the artist’s interest in the physical substance of painting.
Having graduated from Goldsmiths, Estna abandoned her narrative approach and refocused on the process of painting itself. Her colour palette shifted towards lighter pale pastels - blues, pinks, yellows - which she interchangeably smears to create swirly patterns. Initially subjecting canvases to such treatment, Estna gradually progressed to cover clothes, objects and entire spaces with cotton-wool colours, gradually expanding her research into colour and act of painting, the possibilities of experiencing and looking at painting in an expanded field.
Selection of her upcoming and recent exhibitions include: solo exhibition at Karen Huber gallery, Mexico City (2018); duo exhibition together with Kris Lemsalu, curated by Thomas Cuckle, Tallinn, Vienna and Berlin (2017); group exhibition in Pera Museum, curated by Alistair Hicks, Istanbul (2017); collaboration with Ana Cardoso, Temnikova & Kasela gallery, Tallinn (2017); "Memorial", Estonian Embassy in London, UK (2016); “The Seed Can Be Initialized Randomly”, together with Ana Cardoso, Múrias Centeno, Porto (2016); “Domesticmindcraft”, Karen Huber gallery, Mexico City (2016); “Genialmythcraft”, Palermo Galerie, Stuttgart (2015); “Corporate Jungle”, Temnikova & Kasela Gallery, Tallinn (2015); “Blue Lagoon”, KUMU Art Museum, Tallinn (2014); “So Soft/+Pure” performance, Small Projects, Tromso (2014); “Everything that could fit into my suitcase” installation, ArtInternational, Temnikova & Kasela Gallery, Istanbul (2013); “Spinach & Banana” solo exhibition, Winkleman Gallery, New York (2013); “Dream Island” semi-consumable installation, in collaboration with Juste Kostikovaite, RCA Jay Mews Hub, London (2013).