Freedom is something Tuulikki has sought for decades — ‘there’s a need to get out,’ she explains, adding that she often feels spiritually confined. Wind, water and rocks are very important for her as being close to the sea helps her feel free. Sea, just like feelings, is abstract and always changing, inspiring the artist to paint.
Two of the exhibition’s earliest works, Thoughtline and Rainline, originate from 1995 but something about those paintings touches the artist to this day. Tuulikki feels like she is back in the same place in her life where she was in the 1990s. The newer paintings showcased in Haus Gallery have been made in the same rhythm of those two older works.
Tuulikki associates her thirst for freedom with the events that happened in the Estonian society in the 90s. Regardless of the borders opening, sometimes we limit ourselves or it’s life; including relationships, situations and choices; that does it for us. In the 90s, it was Tuulikki’s devotion to her small child that separated her from complete creative freedom.
As an artist, Tuulikki needs to be alone and paint in solitude. It has a freeing effect on her. The emotion she felt when she was looking at her old paintings, awakened a new strength and will in her to paint. Tuulikki feels that she has more time and peace in her life lately: ‘Time and concentration are crucial when it comes to oil paintings.’
The works exhibited in Haus Gallery are largely made during this summer, both in a studio as well as a garden. ‘It was finally possible for me to paint with proper lighting,’ says Tuulikki. On the eve of this exhibition, she thanks June’s good weather for the chance to paint outside.
Spaciousness and geometry are inherent in Tuulikki’s paintings. ‘I wouldn’t say that I’m very sensitive. Even verbal expression is difficult for me. Same goes for finding titles for the works, I would rather just number my paintings,’ she says about herself. Tuulikki reminisces how someone as a lighthearted joke once told her to go study mathematics. Languages weren’t exactly her strongpoint in school. Looking at her works, it seems like Tuulikki has created her own universal language of feelings instead. A language which is a mix of art, mathematics, light and everything else which one needs to pour into a painting. When she was younger, Tuulikki also had in mind to study medicine. Perhaps it was this that prompted her to make the human figures Heon and Sheon exhibited in the gallery.
Tuulikki is mostly known as a theatre artist and for her expressive watercolours. Certain theatrical lighting and decorative line exist in both Tuulikki’s watercolour and oil paintings. In the works of the current exhibition that line seems more fragmented, the light more colourful and intense. The lines on the paintings appear shattered, as if Tuulikki has broken through them. Nevertheless, the added eyes, symbolising control, question whether or not in today’s society unconditional freedom still exists.
Hopefully, Tuulikki’s paintings will captivate and liberate the viewers as well, inspiring them to find their own freedom. Tuulikki Tolli’s exhibition ‘On the Edge of Feelings’ is opened until the 2nd of September in Haus Gallery.