The landscapes in this catalogue carry the steps of the artists through more than a hundred years. Ants Laikmaa’s pitch black field in Võnnu, a farmhouse in the background – the field on this image is even more important than the building. Recently I visited Jäneda manor where I saw a display of 25 winning works of a photography competition, all of which depicted farms in the Baltic States. Crisp romance. The exhibition’s accompanying text put into words the essence of the farm worker, for whom, whether he is sowing or harvesting, the process of harvesting is more important than the crop itself. It is crucial to understand the rhythms and the power of nature, to get immersed in it, to play along and live it.
When looking at the landscapes created by Estonian artists, the ability to capture the essence of the land seems to be as natural as breathing. Whichever painting style or technique is being used, the mood and the emotion of the scenery is perceptible on a deeper level. Nature as an integral part of the local culture’s self-expression is a constant. Toomas Vint paints ideal landscapes to this day. His works are the example of how we should respect our environment, so that every human trace, building and construction could look like an organic part of its surroundings. Likewise, on Richard Sagrits’ seascapes from the 50s, the fishermen naturally blend into the color palette of the sea, the artist’s ability to deeply understand his subject matter is evident. Sagrits’ namesake Richard Uutmaa was also open to landscapes – especially to seascapes – throughout his whole career. Uutmaa and the sea have become synonymous in Estonian art. When Võerahansu, who was painting in Tartu and Southern Estonia, noticed the greens of the forest ranging from dark to silver, then Uutmaa observed the sea from pale to vibrant blue. Similarly, Andrei Jegorov loved to grasp the atmosphere of the space first rather than the composition. The two artists named Burman, father and son, combined cityscapes and landscapes with the sensitivity of the watercolor technique.
It’s no exaggeration that nature has inspired all Estonian artists in many manifestations and touches, be it a scenery stretching from one edge of the picture to another or a touch of a flower on a monochrome background, like Malle Leis did. In her works, blooms and fruits get a whole new dimension to their form and substance. Leis’ laws of nature are selfishly colorful personas in the best way possible, demanding the attention they deserve.
Nature and its abundant reality is certainly an important inspiration source for artists in terms of the technique. Much talked about light, shadows, styles, density or sparsity of the brush strokes, impasto or the lack of it – the depiction of nature provides plenty of opportunities for playing with all of that, in order to birth something with an independent value: a great artwork as the best concentrate of things seen and sensed at a moment in time. May these works be left to the viewer themself to experience, either as a moment on a wall of the gallery, as a story in the catalogue or a permanent piece in their own home.
Have a beautiful autumn of classical art!