Jaan Toomik

Liminal Space

Through November 15, 2023

Meet Jaan Toomik

Career Highlights

Major Solo & Group Shows

São Paulo Biennial, Manifesta Biennial, Site Santa Fe Biennial, Venice Biennale, Berlin Biennale

Institutional Collections

Kiasma, Museum Ludwig, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, National Museum of Denmark, National Museum in Szczecin, Stedelijk Museum, Moderna Museet, Louis Vuitton Foundation, Nicola Trussardi Foundation, Erika Hoffmann’s Private Collection

Selected Reviews

Artforum, Arterritory, Art Review, Studija,
Art Agenda, Frieze, Kunst.EE


Life and death


Land Art


To be human is to exist in the liminal space between life and death. These two conditions constantly contradict one another and yet are inextricably intertwined. Amidst this universal dichotomy, Estonian visionary artist Jaan Toomik creates works of art that highlight the majesty inherent in the inevitability of this cycle.

Approaching his subject with a serenity that only adds to the captivating nature of his multidisciplinary body of works, he reveals beauty in the spontaneity and randomness that arises throughout our human journey. The artist’s explorations evolve through a series of acrylic paintings, oil on canvas, serigraph prints, and Toomik’s iconic use of video. His work challenges viewers’ complacency with their day-to-day physical, mental, and spiritual states.

Fly Paper

Toomik’s Flypaper series consists of four narrow acrylic paintings. They are morbid compositions of hyper-detailed flies lying trapped on an eerily yellow flypaper. As viewers are lost in an accidental entanglement, Toomik’s masterful use of color entrances them with the notion of light shining through the canvas, intensifying the notion of being caught in the midst of life’s unpredictability.

In this life, there are not that many things a person feels like doing or really wants to do. Most of the time, it is relatively boring or depressing anyway, so a painting is like a sublimation of such tensions.

Jaan Toomik


In his oil painting Fishermen, gestural swirls of vibrant paint reveal a scene seemingly of beauty and harmony. Viewers are immersed in the fishing practice that is dear to Toomik’s heart. Fishing, however, is an act at the intersection of life and death. At the moment a fish is reeled in, a decision must be made, whether to sacrifice this life to provide sustenance so that others can continue to live. Viewers reevaluate how this often-relaxing hobby is one linked to the balance of life and death.

Father & Son

Toomik’s famed video piece titled Isa ja poeg (Father and Son) transforms into a series of serigraph silkscreen prints. Viewers see frozen segments where the artist skates naked on the Baltic Sea. While this is a visual embodiment of human versus nature, Toomik also invites viewers into intimate moments that exist between the artist’s recollection of memories and the present time.

Artwork moves towards self-cognition and is set in motion by the need to grasp absolute reality. However, at a certain moment, you cross the line of absolute reality: is it a dream or the world here or just my mental reflection of it or my imagination?

Jaan Toomik

Toomik in Motion

Immortalized for his hypnotic repetitions, Toomik’s video practice has a magical way of stripping away the pretenses of the world. By testing the limitations of the human body and playing with the relationship to place, he distills life to its uncertain essence only to subvert these notions with elements of the uncanny.

In Talimaandlejad (2021), Toomik works with snow and ice. Fascinated by the absurdity of his actions, viewers witness the artist wrestling with an Estonian writer. These futile confrontations are looped together to create an unending and unwinnable battle.

Seagulls (2004) allows water to become the medium. In a nightmarish investigation of the realm of dreams versus reality, viewers experience the inescapable force of growing older.

Untitled (2002), enthralls viewers as the artist appears to fall from the sky and be consumed by the Earth itself.

Everybody has their needs, and mine is to create. I wouldn't say that it's a higher goal; it is simply a medium and a possibility of being active.

Jaan Toomik

Traversing mediums, Toomik’s exhibition delves deeper into the balances of life and death integral to his work in a manner that exudes a sense of perseverance and acceptance in the face of life’s unknowns.

About Jaan Toomik

Jaan Toomik is the most internationally well-known contemporary artist from Estonia. He has a multi-disciplinary practice that covers painting, video, performance, sculpture, and land art.

Throughout his career, the artist participated in the most prominent biennials and large-scale exhibitions. Depicting metaphysical themes, Toomik’s works have been acquired by the most established museums and private collections around the world.

Toomik was awarded the Konrad Mägimedal by the Estonian Artists’ Association in 2015. He is among the recipients of the national artists salary between 2022 and 2024. The artist is the head of the painting department at the Estonian Academy of Art.

Latest Articles

Contact us

Fill in the form below to inquire about this artwork.

Join our newsletter and grab your free copy of Best Exhibitions Around the World in 2024.


Plus, continue to stay updated on the contemporary art world through a weekly digest of headlines and our own new articles!