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Article by Dr. Sc., Professor Boris Bernstein, Member of AICA, 1994

Sirje Runge belongs to a small group of Estonian artists who, in the first half of 1970s, despite the official doctrine of "social realism", began to restore and reintepret the traditions of geometric abstraction laid down in Estonian art in 1920s by the movement "Eesti kunstnikkude ryhm" ("Group of Estonian Artists") and interrupted practically in the middle of 1930s already.

Sirje Runge's early paintings were designed on the basis of clearly determined and balanced correlation of elemental lines, figures and forms - circles, squares, triangles, balls - and uniform colour surfaces.

Further evolution of the paintings was both logical and paradoxial. First, the ascetic logics of ideal praforms was distorted by geometric irregularities, creating a kind of plastic intrigue. Then, not rejecting the geometric form and preserving the principle of hard edge in a relative inviolability, she rejected the principle of uniform colour within elemental forms and turned chromatic correlations and gradations, first, into equal, then into more active means of aesthetic organisation of the painting. It was a decisive step towards self-determination, which has created a unique and indispesable Sirje Runge's niche in contemporary Estonian painting.

Sirje Runge's paintings of 1980s - the beginning of 1990s can be divided into two types. One of them can be characterized by highly laconic geometric spacial forms, which have been assigned a structurising function, they form surfaces and hollows where the most subtle play of colour and shade transitions take place. In the second type of paintings solid spatial structures are turned into minimal and are often on the verge of disappearence. Dematerialisation reaches the level where light stops being the form-shaping source and remains the universal and the only substance, showing itself in the elusive colour flows of pictorial space. Within the years Sirje Runge has turned more and more to the sublimated painting of the latter type, characterized by high and refined virtuosity. As a rule, the traces of geometric abstraction here come to onedimensional curvlinear edges of related colour zones, brought together in strict angles. They preserve, if so, the structurising and rhytmically expressive function. Still, main topics of the paintings are the differentiated transormations of the visiospacial environment, traced with extreme sensitiveness - up to the disappearance of last geometric elements. These transformations can be perceived visual metaphor and as a sublimated, aristocratically reserved form of lyrical expression.

Beside ten personal exhibitions in Estonia, where her art is highly appreciated, Sirje Runge has had personal exhibitions in Bern (1990) and Paris (1993), at group exhibitions her painings have been exhibited in Barcelona, Graz, Helsinki, Kiel, Krakow, Minsk, Moscow, New York, Paris, Rijeka, Stockholm, Tampere, Vienna, Venice, Vilnius. Since 1969 she has been systematically exhibiting her painting at annual all-Estonian and other exhibitions in her homeland.

Sirje Runge's paintings are in the Estonian Art Museum (Tallinn), the collection of the Tallinn artists House and the Estonian Art Mutual Fund, the Museum of Fine Arts (Bern), the State Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow), and in private collections in Estonia, Finland, Germany, Japan, Lithuania, Sweden, Switzerland.