Mihkel Ilus




Curated by Siim Preiman.

Norwegian Landscape with Pine by the well known Estonian painter Konrad Mägi (1878-1925) was most likely painted in Skotterud in 1910, at the end of the artist’s two-and-a-half year stay in Norway. Mägi’s works are one of the most valuable paintings circulating in the Estonian art market today, and finding and selling on one can make or break a year in the life of a local private gallery. In contrast to the current value of the work, the coarse canvas and thin layers of paint on the small Norwegian Landscape bear witness to Mägi’s poor financial situation at the time. From the point of view of a historian the material qualities of the painting can thus be more valuable than a formal analysis of the image itself.

In the work of Mihkel Ilus we see a proposition for a new kind of painting. In his mind, for most of the 20th century, painting was largely a vessel for emotions and too much centred on the creative individual. Ilus is in search of a mode of painting that does not necessarily tell any stories. His tools are still canvas, oil and wood, but he combines these to create unconventional forms - benches, loadbelts, buckets, pennant banners etc. Even though the final objects are not images in the conventional sense, they are still very recognisable as paintings, indicating that there still is something timeless about the way a painter relates to and treats his materials.

The exhibition is curated by Siim Preiman.

Mihkel Ilus (b. 1987) is a visual artist living and working in Tallinn. He often creates large-scale installations centred around a painterly approach. Having studied painting at Tartu University and the Estonian Academy of Arts, an important part of his practice consists of combining exhibition culture with performance art. His recent solo exhibitions include: Caprices: Pre-amp (with Henri Hütt) in the Design and Architecture Gallery, Tallinn (2017); Stick It in Your Wall in Hobusepea Gallery, Tallinn (2017); and Dead End (with Marten Esko) in the Art Hall Gallery, Tallinn (2016).

Siim Preiman (b. 1992) is an art agent based in Tallinn. He works as a curator at Tallinn Art Hall and runs the travelling gallery galerii galerii. He studied Art Theory at the Estonian Academy of Arts. Recent curatorial projects include: Johannes Säre’s solo show in Hobusepea Gallery, Tallinn (2017); Art Nõukas’ solo show Lost and Found in galerii galerii (2017) and Children of the New East in Art Hall Gallery, Tallinn (2017). 

The exhibition is co-produced by Hordaland kunstsenter and Tallinn Art Hall.


Hordaland Art Centre based in Bergen, Norway was established 1976 as the first artist run art centre in Norway. Its activities are based around the exhibition programme with equal emphasis on seminars, presentations and dialogue. Since 1987 Hordaland Art Centre has hosted a Nordic residency programme, from 2008 also open to international artists, curators, writers and other art professionals.