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Interview with artist, curator and art director Toomas Altnurme

Toomas Altnurme

Interview with the artist, curator and art director: Toomas Altnurme The Estonian artist Toomas Altnurme was born in 1973, he

Interview with the artist, curator and art director: Toomas Altnurme

The Estonian artist Toomas Altnurme was born in 1973, he lives and works in the United Arab Emirates. We contacted him for an interview to find out what he’s working on, and to ask a few questions about art and we’re trying to figure out how to find a good gallery. He also tells us what to expect in the future and gives young artists a tip on the way.

An easy start, where are you right now, how are you and what project are you currently working on?

Now I am working on kinetical metal sculptures made from recycled industrial metal, good for the environment but not only that it’s a good game as an artist to compose objects into compositions.

You studied painting at the Rajamangala University of Technology. You studied sculpture at Seoul University and obtained your Master of Fine Arts from Hongik University in Seoul. Is studying important for artists?

My studies have always been interest-based, so I never did think about success or money, but somehow with hard work never giving up on art, I did reach that point that my art, sculptures are all around the world Europe, Asia, America, Africa. I am 3 generation artist and did grow up seeing many arts from my father and grandfather so I somehow keep up the family traditions since they are not around anymore. I have been an international artist, sculptor, painter, designer, photographer for more than 25 years. I did study between 1991 to 2001 in 5 universities, I did study 1981 to 1997 at Tallinn University in Estonia and did graduate with a Baccalaureus Arctium degree in Art Education and Technical Drawing, that degree now is considered as master’s level qualification. 1994 to 1995 I did study with UNESCO Scholarship at Rajamangala University in Thailand. 1997 to 2001 I got a Korean Government scholarship and did a study in Kyunghee university Korean language, then sculpture research in Seoul National University and did graduate 2001 Hongik University Graduate School with a Master of Fine Art focusing on painting, digital art, and sculpture installation. My thesis name was My inner world expanded by various media techniques and culture. I speak several languages, Estonian, English, Finnish, Korean, and some Spanish and Arabic. I have been teaching Fine Art and Design for more than 15 years in universities in Estonia Tartu Art College, Estonian Art Academy, and last 7 years in United Arab Emirates University, College of Humanities and Social Sciences. United Arab Emirates university I did teach Fine Art and Design to more than 2000 students already. Courses include Photography, Designing Media Messages, Drawing, Painting, 3D Design +sculpture, Art Criticism, Art History, Culture, and Heritage. I curated hundreds of Fine Art solo and group exhibitions, participated in international sculpture symposiums, and created art, designs, photos, and sculptures for public spaces, parks, museums in more than 50 countries. I did travel and make friends and photos around the world in 80 countries.

According to Wikipedia, you have been teaching visual arts and design at the University of the United Arab Emirates in Al Ain since 2014, how did you come to this decision?

I was invited here to an international sculpture symposium Upcircle, recycled materials were in Liwa UAE, the same time I saw there was an opening in UAEU for teaching Fine Art so I did apply. I got the job out of 90 applicants.

As a teacher, can you still find the time to devote yourself to your own art?

I work just 3 days a week so I have plenty of time for art, now that all is online it’s even more time for creations.

Your works of art can be found in public spaces in the USA, Brazil, Russia, Chile, Taiwan, Denmark. England, Italy, Germany, Finland, actually to be found in every country, what tip do you have for young artists?

For sculptors, there are symposiums all around the world, that way I got my sculptures into 50 countries, was lucky to doit before the pandemia, always there is competition, but more you apply better chance for you to get invitations so do not give up and believe in yourself is the key. Artists have to self-motivate just like every other person comes down to self-esteem, which needs training and discipline.

In Germany, a new gallery study has shown that 9 out of 10 galleries work with artists without written contracts. You have had exhibitions around the world, what are your experiences with them?

Galleries is not creating the intellectual content, but artists are so galleries percentage is usually too high. Institutions try to always put art to the box and label it, take power away from creators. I recommend finding alternative places for showing your work reaching out to people without a middleman who takes the % so be creative in that. The best exhibition I ever had was in the Noksapeyong subway station Seoul during 3 months 2 million people visited the exhibition.

How do you recognize a „good“ gallery?

Artists should never ever pay for gallery exhibitions they art, but it should be free, or artists get paid. In Estonia, there are 3 galleries that pay for an artist to show their work A BAD gallery is a corporate gallery in a style where artists cannot even apply to show their work, the standard answer is we have our curators, and they choose the artists. That is a scam what you can see in New York Scandinavia many museums, galleries that exhibit dead artist works and profit from there. A good gallery is open for all artists unfortunately we can’t see many of them those days so you can create your own.

Are exhibitions currently planned despite the global pandemic?

For outdoors, parks it’s not a problem also virtual exhibitions 3D solo virtual exhibition

What can we expect from you in the future?

Now and in the future, we will see lots of digital art sold with cryptocurrency so there is a way to go there

Not only are you an artist, if I’ve done the right research, but you’re also a curator and art director?

Yes, I was working 2013 in Berlin as Art Director in South Korean German Multimedia Corporation so I saw intellectual property sold with millions, artist undervalues they creations and should try to take the business side in their hands if possible. I made 300 exhibitions with my art around the world then I saw that I can also do it for other artists did organize exhibitions in Paris, South Korea, and UAE. I was invited to be Co-Curator to be in Italy Dolomites Biennale.

Which artist do you prophesy a glorious future?

Multi talents who can handle all the tasks by himself or herself, creating art, promoting, selling and so one

Is there an artist that you would deny talent to? Where they say it’s just hype and show, not „art“?

Art is a subjective matter and comes down if an artist has creativity or not, can play, compose, or not. Art is a lifelong study so will see in the end who is an artist and not. Short-term performances are like reading 1 page from the book and have to give the value. LIFE IS ART so there are no limits to creating new ways of seeing and understanding. The human brain has the capacity and can create an 11-dimensional reality there is a long way to go still.

Please keep me informed about future exhibitions and press releases. I would be happy to report on it and inform the German/European market about your events.

Thank you very much. The next exhibition should be in Paris from 1 to 6 June, of course, if there is no lockdown like now. December 1 to 5 2021 I am planning to organize Art Biennale in Abu Dhabi. At the end of November, 2021 will be an exhibition in EXPO Estonian Pavillion Dubai.

Sculptures from Toomas Altnurme around the world:

More Informations

The German translation will follow soon.

Cover picture: Metal sculptures by Toomas Altnurme in UAE Liwa

Toomas Altnurme on Instagram:  Instagram-Fotos und -Videos

More Informations about Toomas Altnurme:

Art for sale in UAE: Altnurme | the-collection

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