Olev Subbi was one of the most important painters in Estonian art in the second half of the 20th century. He started making art in the 1960s and quickly developed his own style and a characteristic choice of topics. Besides landscapes, nudes, portraits and group portraits, his later oeuvre also included (semi-)abstract works of art. Many of the paintings are nostalgic and refer to Subbi’s childhood summers in the 1930s. They are characterised by yearning for harmony and order and a desire to continue in the art canon prevalent before World War II. Subbi focused on studying different ways to make use of colour, brushwork and composition. His oeuvre became extremely popular in the late 1960s and throughout the following two decades he held an important position in the local art life. In his later career, Subbi started to make more abstract paintings and displayed his art abroad on several occasions.
Starting in the 1990s, he was a close friend of Enn Kunila's and his mentor in regards to compiling the latter’s art collection. Over the years, many works by Subbi from all of his creative periods have found a place in Kunila’s collection, thus making it one of the largest collections of Subbi’s paintings after that of the Art Museum of Estonia.