Being Provincial

Recently when we were in Estonia I sold a couple of landscape paintings and received some commissions (2 flower paintings and a cat painting). It’s always really pleasing when someone likes your work. What a place! I sent the painting to Estonia this week (thankyou to the capable hands of Mari) and it’s now safely in the owner’s hands. I hope she has many happy years with it.

I also discovered a new artist, Lola Liivat (1928-) while I was there, as I met her cousin. She’s one of Estonia’s first (and very few) abstract expressionist artists and she kindly lent me a lavishly illustrated catalogue of  her work also containing some very interesting essays translated into English.

The Estonians write in a particularly poetic style which is quite abstract and sometimes difficult to comprehend. The essay was about abstraction in Estonian art and introduced some interesting ideas. The history of modern art is always told like it’s a competition between countries. And France, Russia, Germany and US are the winners as that’s where the major art movements of the 20th modernism originated. Everybody else is provincial. But in this essay by Kaire Nurk she makes the interesting point about abstraction being a style that was taken up as an response to the need for freedom in terms of the historical context of Estonian history. (Estonia was invaded and occupatied by the Soviet Union and the Nazis).

Can you really call a country provincial simply because it doesn’t follow the ‘trends’ at the same time? What do you think?

Lola Liivat Abstract Painting 2003

Take a look at this fantastic drawing instruction website – The Elements of Drawing by John Ruskin

‘Artists today think of everything they do as a work of art. It is important to forget about what you are doing… then a work of art may happen.’

Andrew Wyeth


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