Kärt Hammer “DIRTY WHITE”

Large white paintings on chairs, by the wall, near the window. “White is the same kind of black like black, just white,” says Kärt Hammer. A framed skull with jewellery attached to horns. White underpants with sequins. Drawings. Drawers full of drawings. A diary on the shelf: a drawing on each day’s page. Photos on the wall. Next to them, an A4 sheet of paper with quotes in English. They’re mostly about God, people and love. A book on the bookshelf. Some sentences have been highlighted in yellow. I secretly take some photos. “A God-shaped hole is best filled by music, as it alleviates our existential loneliness better than anything else,” is highlighted with a thick yellow line. And then this:

No God high up in the sky
No devil at the bottom of the sea
Cannot do what you have done
By forcing me down on my knees

Kärt Hammer’s exhibitions are set up at places that have some unique feeling for her. Usually, this feeling reaches us as a scream. Streamlined, framed, glazed, cleaned – but as a scream. This scream didn’t appear recently, it’s not trying to force itself through like water behind a dam, it’s there all the time. “I draw every day,” Hammer once said. Incessantly. Obsessively. Naked bodies with their cracks and slits, drawn quickly enough to prevent details from taking over. And these bodies surrounded, as always, by emptiness.

Hammer’s works look for the meaningful at the intersection of the low and the high, the sequinned underpants and the invisible God. There is some kind of longing, an attempt to reach something, but it only allows itself to be collected in fragments. Her paintings and drawings bear sentences instead of texts, words instead of sentences, letters instead of words, carcases instead of bodies – wretched little prices that appear from nothingness, just for a fleeting moment. The God Hammer is looking for is not this God. Maybe she’s not looking for God at all, for a non-believer, it would mean biting off more than she can chew, so maybe she’s marking the non-existence of God instead. The signs that suggest he could be here – but he isn’t. Numerous little crucifixes. God, God, God scribbled on the drawings, like the prayer of a madwoman. A massive rosary, which wouldn’t look out of place around a rapper’s neck, not necessarily marking something’s existence, but rather non-existence.

Hammer’s white paintings aren’t really talking about divine innocence. These flowing expanses of colour are more like the silently spreading screams that cover the painting like snow covers the ground. Or like the vomit of someone whose insides don’t give in when shaken, but dig around inside a person even when it seems there’s nothing more to take. A dark bile from the soul, with some word fragments scribbled over them, but new waves coming and coming.

And then the everyday objects of the world. Sofas, cabinets, mattresses and next to them abstract objects like things, materiality itself – and photos, an illusion of materiality. Everywhere, there is softness, this safe cradle that we expect from God and the possibility of which excites us so much that has based our erotic desires on softness – the easiest way for us to fill the void that God doesn’t visit anymore.

Hammer doesn’t hide the fact that she’s the protagonist of her exhibition. Her presence is visible, discernible, almost tangible. Everything here is at her service. Her kingdom come, her will be done. Stubbornly, she stays in the saddle of her work, like a cowgirl riding into the sunset, cracking the whip and increasing the speed as it becomes increasingly clearer: there is nowhere to go. Is it logical? “Since when has belief in God had anything to do with logic?” as Nick Cave asks.

Eero Epner, February 2024

About the artist:
Kärt Hammer (1988) is an interdisciplinary artist, whose creative self-expression focuses mainly on abstract painting and drawing, but whose work also extends to installations, photography and fashion. Hammer’s method is intuitive. Through pure aesthetics, the artist is looking for intensities that are aesthetic and psychological at the same time.

Assistance in creating the exhibition came from:
Jewellery: Patrick Soome
Text: Eero Epner
Graphic design: Taavet Kohal
Installation support: Erkki Kadarik
Photographic documentation: Roman-Sten Tõnissoo

Tütar gallery and artist Kärt Hammer express gratitude to:
Velle Hammer, Mare Hammer, Eero Hammer, Patrick Soome, Rea Lest, Taavet Kohal, Kristel Jänes, Madis Laur, Henri Hütt, Henry Kasch ja Kanuti Gildi Saal, Andres Ojasu.

The exhibition is supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, TRAGE, Balen OÜ, Kommipomm and Mirai Baltics.