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Polish Illustrator Joanna Concejo´s Exhibition

From 8th of August until the end of September, the solo exhibition of the Polish illustrator and artist Joanna Concejo is displayed at the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre. The exhibition is held in cooperation with the Polish Embassy in Tallinn. On 8th of September at 4 p.m the exhibition will be officially opened with the author present and after the opening all interested can participate at the artist talk.

“Joanna Concejo is one of the most recognized and respected illustrators in the world today. Her personal and sensitive handwriting, wealth of detail and accuracy, ability to approach everyday topics in an attractive way, her unexpected findings and “out of the box” thinking are charming and awe-inspiring. Many artists try to imitate her, but it is difficult to achieve the sensibility that we find in Joanna’s pictures. It is a great pleasure that we can show here a small selection of her work, both in the form of pictures and books,” said Viive Noor, curator of the exhibition and art expert of the centre.

Joanna Concejo (b. 1971) is an illustrator and artist who graduated from the Poznań Academy of Fine Arts in 1988. In 1994, she moved to France, to the suburbs of Paris, where she lives and works to this day. In addition to her work as an illustrator, she is also involved in visual arts (sculpture, ceramics) and from time to time guides courses in Italian illustration schools as a guest teacher.

Concejo has illustrated more than 20 books, for which she has received several prestigious awards such as Calabria Incantata “Abracalabria” Altomonte (2004), IBBY Polish Book of the Year (2013), Bologna Ragazzi for the illustrations of the book “Lost Soul” with text by Olga Tokarczuk (2018), Musée d’Illustration Jeunesse/Moulins Gand Prix for “Sénégal” (2021) etc.

Her illustrations have been exhibited all over the world – in Portugal, Italy, Poland, Taiwan, South Korea, France and elsewhere, including the Biennale of Contemporary Art in Busan (2002), the Illustrators’ Exhibition of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (2004), the International Illustration Biennale “Illustrarte” (2005, 2009 , 2013), etc. In 2015, Concejo’s works were exhibited for the first time in Estonia, at the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre at the international illustration exhibition “It’s Always Tea-Time”, which later traveled to different countries for many years. In 2020, Concejo participated in the Tallinn Illustration Triennale and won a diploma there. Now, once again, there is an opportunity to enjoy Concejo’s illustrations at the exhibition in the centre.

Joanna Concejo describes her work as followed: “I like drawing how a hole is being sewed to fix clothes. Like when black thread is used to fix a white button, because that’s all you have. Like fixing the rubbed elbow of a navy jacket with a flowery pad. And it smiles to us. Out of the most basic need to fix something and make it serve us longer, last a little more. 

I love drawing squares being crocheted for a table cloth in complete oblivion, meditation, ignorance almost, without thinking too much … A stitch to the right, a stitch to the left… ‘Cause that’s how it’s done, ‘cause that’s how all the grandmas of the world I know have done it.

I love drawing the sad song of a girl returning from the field in the evening. Like singing for a love that has been lost. The colour of the sunset of the last summer days. Her tired hands, the dirt on her nails, the dust in her hair and on her feet. This girl exists somewhere, somewhere far far away. With the grass around her bending in the wind, cornflowers gently brushing the bottom of her dress.”

Like a breath of air, like a song she hands to poplars, to the only companions of her sadness.

The exhibition can be viewed in the hall and staircase gallery during the centre’s opening hours, Mon-Fri 10-17, from 21st of August Mon-Fri 10-18 and Sat 11-16.

Illustration by Joanna Concejo