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About 50 m Above Sea Level

Olev Subbi About 50 m Above Sea Level 1992 acrylic, oil, masonite 100 × 140 cm

About 50 m Above Sea Level is the first painting by Olev Subbi that became a part of Enn Kunila’s collection, and marks the beginning of their friendship, which lasted for decades. Subbi soon became Kunila’s main adviser on art, encouraging his friend to start collecting works of art in a more systematic manner.

The painting steps back into the past, separating the nude figure and the abstract composition into different zones again. With the figure, Subbi focussed on the shadows and chiaroscuro. The model’s pale body is no longer the focal point of the piece or a symbol of harmony but embodies mystery and secrecy. She has covered her face with her hands, and while remaining an object to be freely gazed upon, she exudes the aura of withdrawal. In the surrounding abstract composition, Subbi played once more with clear-cut lines and right angles, which he supplemented with amorphous forms and blurred outlines. The painting is not as densely filled as were Subbi's works in the seventies, so we see more of the large bright planes on which the artist’s brush moved calmly and expansively. The viewer should note the cream-coloured base under the nude model, for this kind of large pale area had not been used before in Subbi’s oeuvre.