Merilis contact sheet images-145 2.jpg

Nothing is more powerful than talented people doing what they love

Meriliis Rinne


Meriliis Rinne alias Meru (1985) is an Estonian artist living and working in UK, whose works have been presented in Tallinn and London as well as in Tokyo, Copenhagen, Oslo and Berlin. Meriliis first studied law at the University of Tartu, which deepened her interest in paradoxes and social pressure, i.e., topics that she attempts to solve as a self-taught painter.

All of Meru’s paintings are also her self-portraits. “For some time I have been painting situations in my studio relating to my life and myself as if it was a journey; at the same time I have been indirectly discovering how much my childhood and the end of the Soviet era really affected my understanding of beauty and ugliness,” she says, jokingly reminiscing about how back in the old days a pink skipping rope someone sent to the children next door from America gave her a shock. “Today when I speak about those times to people in London, it feels like a complete utopia!”

This pink shock was induced by the uniform brownness of the environment back then. Similar memories have shaped her coded relationships with other colours, for instance yellow or black. “For a long time, I was torn by the question about how to be a human, artist, and a woman at the same time,” the socially sensitive author says, explaining the dilemma she faced when she was being reproached for busying herself with art, meaning her children would simply starve. This is how the painting “You paint your children black” was born.

When an accused works through what they are accused of, they are liberated from the pressures linked to self-image, and release the negative energy, converting it into positive energy. “Louise Bourgeois spoke about this topic in quite a similar way – she had felt hatred for her father since childhood, but as living with such hate was rather destructive, she found that the only way was to transform the hate into love,” says Meru, commenting on the sentence scribbled on her studio wall: “Turn hate into love”.
A big believer in giving back,  she partly does this by helping fund raising efforts for children's hospitals in Estonia by creating art work for charity auctions, as she feels that art work has more emotional value over money. 

Artist works with mixed materials using mainly acrylics, oils and household paints.  Collaborates with designers and other artists. Several paintings  have been painted on canvas made of recycled and reworked coffee bean bags. 


Text: Triinu Soikmets. 

 Photo: BrittaBinsol

Photo: BrittaBinsol


Love for colours

From growing up at the end of the Soviet era in Estonia there is a memory that Meriliis recalls from being a child of how she began to despise ugliness, from having same toys, same clothes, and even same furniture at home, cars, garden, holidays as every one else around her.  She did not realise back then that everything, even the toy designs were controlled and certified with communist party at Soviet Union. This oppressed and uniformed background taught Meriliis from very young age that she is different. Lack of colours around her felt wrong, she could not accept this as truth. She discovered it was dangerous to stand out but possible to rebel and be individual through beauty and art. She began to draw her own toys and soon to many kids in neighbourhood...

 Photo: David McConaghy

Photo: David McConaghy

 Photo: David McConaghy

Photo: David McConaghy