Drawings and Cells: Recent Drawings

    Thursday, October 3, 1996 to Sunday, October 6, 1996

    Already in 1964 he published his first caricatures and from that year on he published cartoons and book illustrations until he made his first animated short in 1977: IS THE EARTH ROUND? But that wasn’t his first contact with the film industry. In previous years he already assited in films of Rein Raamat and acted as a stuntman in live action films. In 1976 he quit his job as ecologist and concentrated on filmmaking and etchings, drawings, etc… The films of Pärn, especially the later ones, aim at an adult audience. The films always include deeper meanings and different narrative courses. Pärn often comments on a system, society, or political movement, frequently using symbols as he puts it himself: “It’s easy to make films that are like fairy tales but much harder to portray reality.” Serious and even disturbing as this may sound, the films of Priit Pärn also have a characteristic wit. In his film LUNCHEON ON THE GRASS (1987) Pärn introduces four characters: Anna, George, Berta and Edouard. Each of them is overcoming a multitude of obstacles to find what they are looking for. Following the characters gave Pärn the opportunity to comment upon the Societ system: a gloomy world dominated by food shortages, bureaucracy and political intrigue. At the end the characters are united in a park where they act out Manet’s painting Dejeuner sur l’herbe. For a moment their life is art. Nowadays the interest in Pärn’s work is growing but during Soviet times it was very difficult for him to get a film financed. It took him four years before he could start to work on his film LUNCHEON ON THE GRASS. The script was rejected repeatedly by the Moscow based Film Approval Commission. But having a film financed didn’t always mean that the film was sent to film festivals. The Soviet selection committee for festivals gave him a hard time too. After the independence of Estonia in 1991 the filmmakers expected a much easier time without censorship. However, Moscow had not only censored the films but also provided the money that kept the film studios in Estonia running. Being dependent on the arbitrary political system before 1991, the filmmakers had to adopt a more commercial approach. This meant a serious setback for the once strong film industry in Estonia. Few filmmakers are able or have the strength to make films as they have in mind. Pritt Pärn is one of them. In his second last film HOTEL E (1991) Pärn comments on the radical changes in the former Soviet Union. In a hotel setting he created two rooms as metaphors for the former Eastern bloc and the West. Action in the East is monotonous and guided from the top, the scenes are filmed very slow and actions are repeated many time. Living in the West looks however colourful, also very boring. The films of Priit Pärn were invited to numerous festibal throughout the world and won several major prizes. His one animated commercial SWITCH OFF THE LIGHTS (1988) was awarded at the prestigious international advertising film festival in Cannes. Besides film making, Pärn is particularly active as visual artist. His graphic art is very expressive, an account of the daily life of society and individuals. It relates about human behaviour in specific circumstances. Often is seems to portray pleasant aspects of existence but there’s more going on. It looks like people want to hide form the day-to-day worries and don’t want to face reality. Pritt Pärn is able to portray in an outstanding way what occupies people and the influence of political and social structures.
    Gerben Schermer