Elo Järv (full name Elo-Reet Järv, 1939 – 2018) was an Estonian artist who primarily worked with leather, creating a new art form in Estonian art history – a leather sculpture. She claimed that she is attempting to make her works similar to living and breathing organisms, possessing the magic of a living thing. As leather is a sensitive material, having once been alive, it provides for depicting textures of nature, the play of light on the mounds of its surface. None of the surfaces are smooth and flat, they are covered in the incessant undulating movement of different textures and reliefs. Although her works don’t seem directly timely, she deeply sympathized with the major events in Estonia and there are hints to Estonian heritage and painful historical events.
Having graduated with honours in 1964 from the Estonian State Art Institute as a leather artist, Elo Järv started to take part in exhibitions from 1966. Although the 1970s was a decade of innovation in Estonian applied art, the first leather sculptures displayed by her still caused opposing responses among art critics. Extreme naturalism, graveness and off effect were mentioned. Although she was to some extent inspired by then popularity of pop art, her models were not modern vogues or so-called experimental applied art. In the 1990s Elo Järv started exhibiting with the neo-surrealist group Para-89, whose visions and aims seemed understandable and important for her. The exhibitions were displayed several times in Estonia, Finland and Sweden, while it was in Sweden that the boldly original art of Elo Järv was highly acknowledged. In recent years her work is having a moment of rediscovery in Estonia, with inclusion in several contemporary art exhibitions.