so-called travel landscapes constitute a truly remarkable and surprisingly
large chapter in Estonian art. It is a genre that can describe the most outstanding
part of Estonian landscape paintings at the end of the 19th and at
the beginning of the 20th century as all the major artists travelled
to a larger or lesser extent in Northern, Central and Southern Europe and were
productive and successful in their creative work there. Southern
Europe is of particular importance here, fascinating the artists
naturally not with the “familiar”, “northern” or “Estonian” things but with exotic,
unfamiliar and different. For example, Johann Köler and his Italian period,
Ants Laikmaa and CapriIsland, Konrad Mägi and Venice come to mind. It is Italy that clearly
stands out from among the other European countries when we talk about sources
of inspiration for Estonian artists. Spain which Konrad Mägi called his
dreamland (but which he never visited), plays a much more modest role.
Roosvalt took a trip to Spain
to Valencia and Barcelona in 2007. Yet
her paintings belong organically together with the series created by other
Estonian artists elsewhere in Europe about a
hundred years before her time. The source is the same for both of them:
something unknown and unexpected is experienced in a foreign country, which, no
doubt, inspires an artist. But unlike Laikmaa, for example, who lived in Capri
for one year, or Köler whose Italian period lasted for three years, Roosvalt
stayed in Spain
only for a few weeks. It is a short period of time but namely that has
determined the character of Roosvalt’s paintings.
obvious that if someone stays in an unfamiliar environment for such a short period,
his or her perception of the surroundings can be particularly intense. Knowing
that something will end soon makes one always explore that “something” more
closely and with greater passion. That is what happened with Roosvalt - it took
her just a few weeks to draw inspiration for a whole new series of paintings.
All the corners here are sharp, only one point of view is presented, everything
in her paintings strikes as new and unprecedented, and no mood is captured
twice. Such intensity and freshness of impressions brightens up Roosvalt’s
palette, makes it multicoloured and powerful. No, the artist has not been
afraid of maybe not depicting the “real” Spain
– this here is h e r Spain.
It has been experienced, seen, absorbed – but is still unknown.
There is yet
another aspect. If a person stays somewhere for not too long, he or she does
not have the time to explore the riches of the country’s cultural heritage,
thousands of characters of the people or hundreds of possibilities in
architecture to their depth. He or she will see only a fragment of the country
(and it is always rather random). That’s why the search for “truth” in
Roosvalt’s works, i.e. what Spain
really looks like, is futile. Her paintings do not constitute a detailed
overview of Spain and it
seems pointless to compare one’s o w n impressions of Spain with
hers. No, of course Roosvalt has not seen the exact same objects, sensed the
same atmosphere or found the same meanings that you have, although you have visited
the exact same place. Despite of that it would be wrong to think that Roosvalt
has not painted the “real” Spain.
She has. But even more she has painted her own Spain,
or to be more exact: through Roosvalt’s works we learn much more about the
artist herself than about Spain.
An extraordinary map unfolds before us, through which we understand what
exactly interested the artist in Spain’s myriad of possibilities.
The answers, of course, may not come as a surprise: the light, the
architectural objects, the colours, the verve, the passion…
Yet in the
same way as Roosvalt’s impressions of Spain do not match yours, they do not
match Ado Vabbe’s either, for example. There’s nothing one can do. “Situation” confirms
an old truth: each person is unique in his or her own way. And so is each