09.06.2021 - 31.01.2026 / Gallery

Event overview

The aim of Narva Museum Art Gallery’s permanent exhibition Life or Karma? Stories of Narva is to showcase our rich art collection. The question in the title, which paraphrases the chorus of a pop song about Narva, echoed in my mind throughout the process of compiling the exhibition. How is it possible that there is so much diverse art in our collection of nearly 1,700 works? Is it a coincidence, the way things just “happen” in life? Or is it the sum of the right choices and decisions made by Narva city officials and museum staff in challenging times?

Perhaps unexpectedly, you will not find a chronological, masterpiece-oriented exhibition of art history in these halls. The exhibition centres on artworks as manifestations of human nature. Here you will feast your eyes not only on masterpieces, but also at artistic expressions of ideas, emotions, memories, beliefs, ambitions. Originals and copies, the elitist and the everyday, the affordable and the priceless, the masterful and the dilettantish, high and low art are exhibited side by side as equals. When viewing the exhibition, fascinating stories and topics related to Narva begin to unfold.

It is important to understand that the understanding of the world is shaped by many visual culture practices, not just the most famous achievements. Professional art is just a drop in the vast ocean of images. The exhibited material can be seen as creativity given visual form, reflecting the motives of the artists, the conditions in which it was created, social demand, and the political and historical context. Even if we do not know the author of the work, the work does not lack value. And even a copy, a poster, or a fabric run off in thousands of metres came into existence for a specific reason. Behind each work lie visual choices, aesthetic norms and political convictions.

We hope you enjoy plumbing the depths of these layers, keeping an open perspective.

Rael Artel, Curator

‘Life or Karma? Stories of Narva’ will be open at the Narva Museum Art Gallery until 2026.