Raul Meel was during the ‘70s and ‘80s a representative of radical art in Estonia. Nowadays he is a prominent figure in the national and international art scene. Meel’s artistic discourse is not easy to describe: it is a hybrid, as it embraces different aspects of the avant-garde and contemporary art. Meel sees himself as participating in an endless process, in which words are essential. By perpetually typing Estonian names, Raul Meel creates concrete poetries where geometry and language, like two falling into each other galaxies, merge beautifully. In his first personal exhibition in Berlin Meel shows ca 15 graphic prints from 1969 until 2014.
On Raul Meel, by Harry Liivrand
Raul Meel was born 1941 in Estonia, he lives and works in Tallinn. In his every day life he was an engineer-electrician, but art was unquestionably his vocation. He approached visual arts as an autodidact. He applied with passion printmaking, painting, sculpture, installation and performance, at the same time writing prose and concrete poetry. During the Russian occupation period he was a „not recommended author“, but in the Western art scene he gained acknowledge rapidly. Meel has already received more than 20 awards for his art; half of them internationally.
Taking vividly part in exhibitions from 1969, and noting his first solo show in 1971 Meel has had more than 70 personal exhibitions in Estonia and abroad. His works belong to the museums in Tallinn, Tartu, Helsinki, Cracow, New York (Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art), New Orleans, New Jersey, Stockholm and Yerevan. In the exhibition „Verführung Freiheit“ - Kunst in Europa seit 1945“ (in Deutsches Historisches Museum Berlin in 2012-2013) the German public could glimpse famous works of the artist.
Raul Meel is an outstanding representative of Estonian art and one of the best-known cultivators of the heroic art myth in the country. Having firstly made a name in the 1960s with concrete poetry and huge die executed in a pop style, Meel continues to write poetry, alongside printmaking and painting. His works are based on an absolute system: i.e. seriality and principle of order. As an empathetic storyteller, Meel defines the spirit of place, developing his ideas like roots extending into epic tales, whose goal is to reflect the surrounding reality through the language.
The Finnish artist Jorma Hautala writes that Raul Meel is a logical ascetic and I completely agree with him. Raul Meel engages in his art with totality as such and does not falter if confronted with puzzling choices of form and content. His individuality is no longer subject to competitive exhibitions exposed to up-to-date influences. Meel is stuck in eternity, says the Estonian art critic Eha Komissarov. But I would like to add, that his art has also a high visual quality, which is so typical for the classical modernism.
As a senior curator in the Estonian Art Museum I had the privilege in 1989, to curate the first retrospective of Raul Meel and meet him personally. But organizing his first personal exhibition in Berlin is a very special experience for me – as a curator and as a diplomat.