News > The Actual and the Other: Liivia Leškin

The Actual and the Other: Liivia Leškin


Design and Architecture Gallery 20 November - 1 December, 2018

Exhibition curator, Piia Ausman, Haus Gallery:

Which is more real: the one they know or the one we deem ourselves to be? Who are these two “personalities” who keep seeking each other time and again? The pathway between the two is the road of life, filled with a rendezvous with the self. Hello, Liivia! So who are you? The change, the transformation, the advancement! A person’s life as a story of several, occasionally different-looking personalities - interpretations, emotions, art.

Liivia Leškin is best known and recognised as an avant-garde fashion designer. She now inspires others to re-evaluate reality, unveiling her creative spirit through painting.

“I am not comfortable with only being recognised as a fashion designer! Naturally, fashion design is a big part of my life. But I am elsewhere at the moment. Life is supposed to be dynamic. I have never been keen on standing still. Against all odds, we always have the choice of setting our own challenges. I wish to paint. I am not sure if I should even be discussing fashion design in such a context.”

Liivia is standing on the narrow beach of Haapsalu Bay. It is chilly by the sea in the grey afternoon, with an image of a coastal boulder reflecting on the water - a true inspiration if ever there was one. Memory turns the moment into a story. For Liivia, nature in its entirety is a story, a chronicle of experiences to be communicated through paintings - a story of substance, passion, versatility and colour. Quite similar to Liivia herself.

Using traditional means to profile Liivia Leškin as an artist is inconceivable. Born in 1956, graduated from the Estonian Academy of Arts as a fashion designer in 1980, member of the Estonian Artists’ Association since 1989, founding member of the artistic group ON Grupp. 1987–1995 Lecturer and professor of fashion design in the Estonian Academy of Arts and visiting lecturer in several Scandinavian universities of art. Has contributed to numerous personal and group exhibitions as a fashion designer, costume designer, fashion illustrator; has created large-format interior textiles in the digital printing technique, etc. – sounds like a true academic and an individual governed by canons. Surely, that is who Liivia is, among other things. Discipline and determination is a part of her essence. But this is utterly irrelevant in painting. Here comes the other Liivia – ambitious, daring, exploring and free within herself.

Liivia is gazing out of the window of her studio in Haapsalu, resting her eyes on the tranquil garden: “I am a cosmopolitan, actually,” she says, acknowledging herself as a European before Estonian. With her roots deep in the local soil but ambitions beyond the horizons, Liivia respects the opportunities and experiences offered by different cultures and manners of thought.

Haapsalu garden is not manifested on the paintings. It lies within the deep undercurrents of Liivia’s creation. Above all, her works depict abstract expressions, intense emotions, powerful profiles carried by the vibrancy of the modern world, dynamic and colour-crazy motifs against the backdrop of ever-inspiring nature.

The transposition of Liivia’s intellect and feminine sense of life into her creation is clear. Her paintings are spontaneous and yet pragmatic, packed with intense emotions, even the anger of creation, albeit not aggression but rather yearning and power of self-expression. Swiftly and firmly guided by its own technique, the acrylic paint spreads across the surfaces, triggering memories of the appearance of strong wind or a temperament transforming into an emotion.

Liiva Leškin’s paintings make no effort to force the viewer to gaze towards a certain direction but rather serve as an invitation to discover and interpret. Her works appear to be the result of a formed emotion, rather than a logically guided thought. Indeed, even the titles of the paintings remain open-ended: “Windy”, “Coming”, “Thriving”, “Alien land”, “Love begins” ...

“The Actual and the Other” is Liivia Leškin’s first personal exhibition dedicated to the art of painting. Within the framework of the exhibition, Haus Gallery has also produced a short film, providing a glimpse into the creation and thoughts of the artist. The short film can be viewed on screen at the exhibition hall, or by visiting

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