Kaarel Kurismaa "The Old Man and the Musical Score", 17 December 2019 – 1 March 2020
On a conceptually dark evening the old man notices a light gleaming behind the trees. „There might be gold!“ a thought crosses the old man’s head.
On a closer inspection a mysterious contraption, blinking with light, can be seen, and the sounds coming from it are making his heart race.
Inside the light gleaming through the mistiness an unknown shape becomes apparent.
Every object entails a shape, that the old man knows, and light and shade will bring the shape forth.
Here we are, up against a shape that does not seem familiar or has faded from memory, forgotten.
„Out of sync!“ the old man shouts.
The gleam is the inner light of this thing! the old man reasons wisely. But the old man cannot figure out these sounds, the wind ruffles the trees, the cuckoo is cuckooing and rain is drizzling.
I can understand, the old man tells himself, if a table has a leg or two, a cupboard has a door and a lamp has a shade – all these can be explained, can be cited. They can be put in a format, as is decent. That is as plain as day.
But go and figure, perhaps this is an apparatus from far away, from the end of the world, and has brought an alien here, from another time and space.
A bit of space I have had in this life, but time, this disappears so fast and one cannot get any extra, I wish I could tell this to the alien.
To be a human here is a burdensome ordeal, the old man would like to add with a heavy sigh, gauging the apparatus pensively.
Thickness it has, width as well.
Height it also has - true, but the form is vague and halfway in a bush.
It can be that it has been exposed to dampness; it has been soaked and lost its original shape.
For the sake of clarity, one should look at things from many angles. This is a firm decision and the old man strides quickly through the bushes, onto a small glade, where under the crowns of trees a bright white concert grand piano is shining.
Well, this really renders one speechless!
From the vegetal bowels of the earth a piano emerges, furthermore a brand-new one. How did it get here? Why does a person lose a piano into the woods?
How should one understand things now?
Perhaps the musician wanted to go solo while the wind was soughing in the trees, so blended in with the sounds of nature as one ensemble, and went to the wide glade singing:
went singing, went singing, went si-ing-ing...and forgot about the piano.
And really, the pianist cannot be seen anywhere.
The old man shouts loudly, “Musician, where are you? Musician! Rush out of the woods, tunesmith!“
But what if the pianist is a young lady who has made a soft little nest in the bushes, the old man thinks soft-heartedly.
„Oh pianist, where are you?“ the old man whispers into the bush, „Come out now, siskin! Can you imagine how nice it would be to play together in the woods?“
But only silence and the mist inside of it responds from the bushes.
I will put an announcement in the paper – Piano in the woods. Lost pianist.
No, that is not appropriate. Better to write more precisely: Piano found, looking for pianist. Can be of a more mature age. Oh, but maybe I will not succeed anymore, the man sighs sadly.
To know music, to understand partitas, what could be more beautiful?
And again the old man is full of life.
Immediately I will put up a new announcement:
„A piano teacher very much needed. I am also in need of theoretical lessons and visual aids.“
Kaarel Kurismaa, 2013, Translated by Annika Laas
Kaarel Kurismaa (born in 1939) is one of the most unique creators in Estonian art history; an artist with a synergistic platform who can combine various means of expression with ease... In Estonian art history, however, Kurismaa is best known as the founder of kinetic art and the sole artist ensuring its continuity.’ This is how Kurismaa is described by Ragne Soosalu, curator of Kurismaa’s personal exhibition Yellow Light Orchestra, opened at the Kumu Art Museum in autumn 2018. The exhibition The Old Man and the Musical Score of the Temnikova & Kasela gallery places an emphasis on the lesser-known parts of Kaarel Kurismaa’s oeuvre – his paintings and collages – while also referencing his nearly-unknown prose work.