In the last three years, her painting technique has been characterised by layers and masking. She composes her paintings in great detail as sketches and the execution involves layering various paint and patterns on top of each other and then unmasking various tonalities. The layered technique is also conceptually important for Estna, because she uses it to create a timeline, and the different past layers, the history, is visible through the holes left by the peeled-off layers. Estna makes reference to tenets of Estonian mythology, where many creatures, even lower forms, have been given an animalistic role and it is believed that the spirits of our forebears live on in animal form.
Merike Estna (b. 1980) lives and works in Tallinn. A participant in the performance art scene associated with Academia Non Grata alternative art school in the early 2000s, Estna later acquired formal art education at the Estonian Academy of Art where she attended Painting BA and Interdisciplinary Arts MA classes. Estna relocated to London in 2007, where she completed an MFA Art Practice degree at Goldsmiths College in 2009.
Estna’s practice is primarily focused on the processes of painting, approaching the artwork as an integral part of life rather than it being about life. Borrowing patterns and colour combinations from applied arts and crafts, vocabularies which traditionally have not been accepted in the visual language of painting, her work challenges the masculine territory of painting and questions the strict separation between the two discourses. Initially applying patterns and treatments to canvases, Estna gradually progressed to cover clothes, objects and entire spaces as her research into colour and acts of painting expanded.