Domingo Pino // Impressions of Tartu

IMPRESSIONS OF TARTU

I arrived to Tartu when temperatures began to fall, the sky was often gray and rainy, but the autumn was wonderful in the city. I liked to walk around the places covered in leaves and to observe the subtle interferences that the season produced in the rhythm of the city, generating small but beautiful events like people sweeping carefully the streets or children playing with the leaves.

My first impression of Tartu was that everything worked fine according to some kind of internal law, where the situations, the people and the ambients were very well synchronized in an orderly and sober way. For me everything seemed to have a perfect unity and I didn´t find a dissonant contrast between the different environments. Also the external appearance of the city seemed to reflect this solidity with a significant presence of squares, cubes and straight lines as if they were trying to frame the local life, so I started to look behind them for the fragility of some daily happenings to make my first paintings. On them the forms are not very consistent, they appear brittle in some works and fickle in others. In some of them, the shapes and textures are free and in others barely contained by straight lines crisscrossed creating strong geometric shapes that I have observed throughout the local urban landscape. Under the appearance of a perfect order and a solid structure, it seemed that life in Tartu tried to find its own channels to flow.

I tried to catch them during the first two months exploring slowly the city and looking for that ephemeral moments, and after some more experiences outside and experiments in the studio, when I was ready to include some mixed media works to complete the series, Tartu drove me to a different scenario: one morning I woke up in a hospital after breaking my leg, so the perspective of Tartu suddenly changed for me. At the beginning I felt a bit strange and confused for my new situation and the chararcteristics of the environment itself; around there were other people in pain and physically limited so wasn´t hard to feel sadness, but slowly the reallity there became much richer in nuances: the anguish and the malaise were mixed with so beautiful expressions of humanity such as empathy, compassion, courage or selfless help. The “daily life” of Tartu was also inside that hospital and it had a difficult but interesting dimension which I couldn´t approach just from the walks around the city and some casual meetings. The vision of the life is often filtered by the circumstances and there I began to feel some different connection to the place.

After few days I left the hospital but still I couldn´t collect impressions outside the apartment and either go to the studio to finish the works I had in mind so it was a bit frustrating to have to leave them in the last part of my stay. The city reduced, but my feelings towards some people enlarged, specially to Salme Kulmar, Peeter Talvistu and Lemmit Kaplinski. Despite of being very busy with their lifes and jobs, and the extra difficulties of the Christmas dates, they had the kindness and generosity to come to visit me with some goods, so I can´t feel more thankful for caring about me.

I would also like to use this chance to thank some other nice people I could meet during my stay, like Johanna Mudist, the people of the Printing Museum and the Tartu Art House, the other artists of the residency (Amira, Pavel, Radmilla, Miia) and of the “Drinking & Drawing” sessions, and the people -workers and patients- of the Tartu University Hospital. And finally in a special way to Meriliis Kasemets.

All of them have been part of a meaningful experience for me, as well as all the people, animals, sites and facts that day by day discreetly took part of my vision of Tartu and made me feel it as a really wonderful place.

Tänan teid väga!

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