Bachelor’s degree studies
Admissions to the Fine Arts curriculum take place jointly. The first semester takes place in co-study with the sculpture-installation and graphic art specialities. During the first semester, students learn about all three specialities and undergo an introductory course. At the end of the first semester, students can choose between three specialities and begin studies in their chosen area. The way studies are organized allows electives to be taken across the specialities so that students can also enrol in courses in other fields.
In addition to a grounding in theory needed for personal practice, BA students will also attend general Academy-wide lectures that will bring them up to speed with art history and introduce philosophy and critical thinking, the foundations of creative industries, aesthetics and visual culture. In the Fine Arts curriculum, which includes the painting speciality, students also take the Questions of Contemporary Art lecture series, which introduces many key questions in art theory and practice and brings them up to speed with the modern art world’s operating mechanisms.
Every week, students can take part in a lecture series with invited participants, where a new person – artist or theoretician – will talk about their practice.
Every month, Rott/Rat Tea & Biscuits afternoons are held, for which the entire painting class comes together: students from BA and MA programmes, teaching staff and workshop masters. It is a time for discussing matters and ideas related to the department, general talk about topics in painting or just socializing and forging and developing interpersonal relationships.
Field trips to neighbouring countries to visit major exhibitions also play an important part: destinations include Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and even farther.
The first year ends in summer school where students travel out of the city to deal with a different project each year. They learn about land art, history of nature painting, and alternative artist communes, etc.
The second year ends with a summer practicum at a chosen artist or art institution. Students put in working hours and get acquainted with actual everyday life in studios, galleries or museums.
The MA programme provides support for the student to develop into an independent, competent and interesting artist. The focus is on the ability to orientate in international contemporary art and keeping current on the intellectual discourse related thereto. Since this field is extremely rich and open to social and interdisciplinary cultural issues among others, it is important for the students to develop analytical skills, find their personal viewpoint and ability to explain their positions. In the execution of their work, it is important that they know how to choose their tools and realise their planned works of art, art projects and exhibitions at a professional level.
Both analysis and synthesis are important in the study process. We deconstruct sets of problems related to painting within the framework of the daily study assignments and reconstruct them again in the creation of the works and the planning of the creative projects. Viewing paintings in various contexts is an important activity, along with conducting site-specific workshops and projects.
The individual work done by the students in order to develop their creative abilities is supplemented by argumentation and interpretation. Discussions and the critical analysis of completed works in seminars form natural complements to the practical work. An organic part of the studies is the involvement of students in the relevant art world by supporting their appearances at thematic and groups shows as well as in the form of individual projects.
The breakdown between practical (studio) work and discussions-seminars, and the personal relationships that are born of team exhibitions and projects is 75/25 during stage I of the BA programme; 50/50 at stage II and 25/75 at stage III.
It is important to create a common field with international art – among other things, this includes the practical observation training that takes place in course III (autumn semester 2012: visit to the Liverpool Biennial). In addition to the introduction of the personal practices of the faculty members, and the resulting exchange of specialised knowledge with the students, we involve specialists from outside to expand the students’ horizons (for instance in 2011/12, Teet Veispak’s lectures on the relationships between art and fetishism, and Margus Punab’s presentation on the problems of contemporary men).
At a time when mass lectures, multiple-choice tests and distance learning predominate, studying painting at the Estonian Academy of Arts is definitely a personal and exclusive experience. The main study form is personal tutoring – providing the students with first-hand contact with the faculty members as personalities, who represent various artists’ positions and practices in Estonian and international art. The acquisition of universal skills is accompanied by the acknowledgement of every student’s “personal artistic reality” as the cornerstone of his or her creative freedom.
When teaching painting as a general subject to Academy students from other specialities, we keep their speciality and needs in mind – the goal is functional and efficient painting studies, which provide the students with initial depiction skills while also revealing the possibilities of painting based on the specifics of their specialities.