The project "Pahupidi. Inside Out", is based on the Saaremaa Okapi art residency of two colorful artists - Mikheil Gogava and Steve Vanoni. Each of them worked there with their old obsessions - one with strange animals and the other with Elvis - reaching a result that connects nature, man, and elements of the artificial environment. In this way, the exhibition raises, among other things, ecological issues, but above all it reflects the inner emotions of the authors, which emerge more sharply in the residency conditions, i.e. away from the usual environment, and appear as if they were turned inside out.
Mikheil Gogava, looking at the old walls as a child, vividly imagined how various animals and abstract figures moved there, and he felt an irresistible desire to transfer his fantasies and thoughts to a sheet of paper. In the residency, he was able to fulfill this desire. „The inspiration for this series was a dream I had one winter morning. What did these strange, headless animals want to say? They were represented as pigs which I transferred to my works. I realized that pigs are very similar to humans. This animal became the main character of my concept, the hero who can always transform, as in the works.“
Gogava's journey to Saaremaa had a symbolic beginning at the Caravan Art Forum International Art Festival in Kutaisi, Georgia. The Okapi Gallery also participated in the festival presenting Estonian authors and creating connections for new forms of cooperation, one of which has come to fruition in the case of the current project. At that time, the gallery also represented Steve Vanoni, who was included in the residency project as well.
Vanoni continues to develop his author's technique, which combines printing with painting and allows to creation of large-scale works relatively quickly. For years, Vanoni has been dealing with the subject of Elvis Presley, although he is not a big fan. Perhaps it is the controversial phenomenon of Elvis that attracts him or the fact that he is considered like Elvis, but in any case, he sees it as an opportunity to push the personal boundaries of his work. „Attempting to work in new ways keeps it interesting and fresh. Journeying into the unknown you can find the familiar, the self, and the not-self, which is fun to witness and takes a little time to get accustomed to…“
Mikheil Gogava was born in Georgia and studied at the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts. His creative process is largely influenced by walks along the streets, where he observes everyday events and the surroundings. Gogava has had a performance in the Tbilisi theater on World AIDS Day and an exhibition in the Odessa Literary Museum, he has taken part in international festivals and competitions.
Steve Vanoni is a musician and artist from the USA residing in Estonia, whose main outputs are painting, performance, metalwork, and clay sculpture. He has participated in exhibitions since 1980 and has been active in art education, he has also run his art gallery, played music for over half a century, participated in film and television projects as well as in the circus troupe of the Metropol art commune based in Kalamaja, "Põleva Kaelaga Kirjak".