From August 2021, Sirje Runge's installation "Great Love / Beautiful Rotting" is open for exploration at the Estonian Open Air Museum and via the web, symbolizing a gesture by which the artist gives up her ten-meter oil painting to nature. The monumental painting will be installed in the open air museum on a specifically constructed metal structure where it is left to decompose in the wilderness of nature.

It is impossible to predict the end date of this process, but meanwhile the audience is invited to observe via the webcam how the material is resisting the weather, as well as how the plants, lichens, insects and birds relate to the work. By initiating the process entitled beautiful rotting, the artist focuses on the evanescence of everything and looks at the phenomena which are a natural part of life, such as decay, rot, separation and dissolution. "Growing and rotting are a change without a beginning or an end. This is the essence of the Universe – terribly beautiful and at the same time inevitable," says Sirje Runge.

Sirje Runge painted the ten-meter oil painting "Great Love" in 2001–2003 and it is one of her last paintings. It can be considered as a symbolic summary of Runge's long and productive career as a painter. The painting has been previously exhibited in 2004 at the Estonian Museum of Architecture and in 2010–2011 at the Kumu Art Museum. The author has said about this work that if creation was a state of selfless love, then this painting was the expression of her love to the world. The giant silver painting, in which the brush strokes and the different layers of paint reflect the process of painting and the artist's presence, reveals itself according to the movement of the viewer and the light. Throughout her creative life, Runge has been interested in the relationship between nature and the artificial environment, as well as the functioning of physical phenomena, especially light.

"Great Love / Beautiful Decay" symbolically conjures the traumas and discrepancies of the current fragmented and precarious times. On the other hand, the process also refers to the liberation and change brought about by the extreme conditions resulting from the pandemic and the climate crisis. In this way, the installation deals with decay on a larger scale as a natural, cultural, philosophical, but also political phenomenon, while also acting as an encouraging call by an aging woman for consciously accepting the time of change. Runge argues that as death is as beautiful as birth and growth as beautiful as decay, these processes, although different, possess the same value in the larger course of transformation.

The installation has been set in the stone field behind Aarte farm on the territory of the Estonian Open Air Museum. Entrance with museum ticket.

For more information:

Project team: Sirje Runge, Eda Tuulberg (curator at Kumu Art Museum), Andres Heljula, Jaak Kaevats, Omar Neiland, Helen Tammemäe