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New illustrations for the Estonian national epic drawn by Spanish Erasmus student in Estonia

Eero Loonurm

Studying with the Erasmus programme in the Estonian Academy of Arts (Eesti Kunstiakadeemia) encouraged a young Spanish artist Joan Llopis Doménech to make new illustrations for the Estonian national epic „Kalevipoeg” (“Kalev’s Sons”). Doménech was taking different classes in printmaking techniques, lithography, comic books, stained glass lessons and many other fields.

Doménech opened an exhibition in Valencia last month – as the photos show, the opening in Museu de la Festa was full of admirers of the young artist’s work. The Spanish students was studying in the Estonian Academy of Arts in the academic year 2014/2015 and has stressed on the influence that the Academy had on his artistic development.

“My experience at EAA (Estonian Academy of Arts) was brilliant. In fact, it was during my Erasmus studies when I realized that illustration should be my vocation. Studying in Estonia helped me a lot to understand the diversity of subjects and the freedom of developing your own projects and ideas. I learned from everything – printmaking techniques, lithography, comic books or even stained glass lessons. Each subject has opened my mind and has been useful to improving my own style. Also, I’ve always felt support by the teachers, they really encourage students and pay attention to their views and goals, so it’s a very familiar atmosphere and you can feel more productive. Especially I want to say that the illustrator Gerda Märtens has helped me a lot and has been a great influence. My Estonian friends and classmates have always supported me in this project too and I’ve learned a lot from them,” said Doménech.

Doménech said that Erasmus programme has been truly marvelous and he hopes he can return to Estonia in the future.

“I fell in love with the Estonian nature, wandering through the forests… that calm atmosphere has been very inspiring to me and it’s one of my nicest memories of Estonia. Also there are no words to describe the city, I’ve felt very comfortable there and all those experiences have been magical. I could say that my Erasmus in Tallinn has really changed me, giving beautiful memories and motivation for my starting career as an illustrator,” added Doménech.

The Estonian national epic “Kalevipoeg”

Doménech said that he has been interested in folklore, mythology, ancient stories and tales for many years. At first, he was not sure of illustrating “Kalevipoeg” due to various reasons.

“The national epic exists in many versions in Estonia with stunning drawings and I thought that just living in Tallinn for one year… That it is not enough to understand the Estonian culture as deeply and thouroughly as needed and as much Estonian culture and art deserves. But I like these kind of ambitious aims and in fact I was really motivated by the difficulty of being a foreigner. So I started to read a lot, I started to find information about Estonian traditions, paganism and everything related to it’s nature and gods. Also buying books about Estonian traditional clothes, motives and decorative patterns, to draw it as faithful and accurate as possible. I started, while reading the book, (I read an English version of the original poem) to kind of investigate every element that appeared in each chapter, so every animal or plant has been drawn in a very careful and realistic way. The same happens in every element or symbolism, it has a reason behind,” explained Doménech.

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The news article in Estonian:



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