Jüri Koll from ViCA is writing about Kaija Kesa´s prints

Kaija Kesa's exquisite master prints have a contemplative technical and aesthetic vernacular which compliments their steadily positive point of view. For her "Bright Souls" series she uses "anonymous, accidental" found photographs of children and their family members, and combines multiple techniques such as drypoint, etching and collage to create works of beauty and grace through strength. In this particular series strength is a result of the direct perspective of the subjects, who look directly towards the viewer, presenting themselves as they wish to be seen - happy, healthy, optimistic. Removing the original backgrounds of the found photographs intensifies this intent, further enhanced with a new format and the elegantly observant depictions of environmentally-based backgrounds which replace them.

One of her newest works, "Peaceful Evening" depicts a confident man holding the top of a chair with his other hand on his hip looking outward toward someone who might join him. He and his chair are placed in the middle of a stream that has become solid ground under Kesa's tools, while we are invited to study the intricate, thickly grown banks and sky beyond, and the sandy shore where he looks.
Another work, which I have had the pleasure of studying in her studio, is "Quiet Morning" in which a woman with a sun hat looks slightly off to our left with the barest smile of self confidence, hands behind her back, ready for what's next. At first glance she's in a canoe built for pleasure, one you might find in a park. Then she's in front of it, while behind her is the dense river's edge with a solid old tree dominating the bank, reflected in the water all around. The tree and river edge form the other half of a yin/yang composition that's subtle and strong. The technique is photopolymer, drypoint, and Chinese collage, otherwise known as "bapo", which translates roughly to "eight brokens" and treasures remnants of the past, even the most damaged ones, by repainting or recreating it's texture, it's materiality. In this work Kesa masters her subject, reinforcing her intent through transliteration - altogether - of emotion, aesthetic, and technique, always valuing the latter as intrinsic to her work.

Another of her series, on butterflies, bees, and other insects, draws attention to the need to protect pollinating insects around the world, and were part of her "Dedication to Bees" exhibition. Each figure is built with a dry needle technique, which requires strong hands to execute, and that effort transforms the insect into a worker unto itself, along with the print. In particular her work "Bombus/Bumblebee" illustrates this beautifully. All the works in this series are presented as scientific illustrations of specimens requiring further discovery and respect.

She creates her masterworks in her print studio/gallery in Tallinn, Estonia, a country with a long tradition of excellence in the challenging medium of the fine art print, which she continues with her personal, yet universal body of work.

Juri Koll, Founder/Director
Venice Institute of Contemporary Art (ViCA)
Los Angeles, California
July, 2021
Aino Bach ja Kaija Kesa - "Liblikapüüdja" 
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