Afternoon

Elmar Kits Afternoon 1942 oil, cardboard 61 × 81 cm

It is possible that this is the painting Pärastlõuna Suislepas [Afternoon in Suislepa] by Elmar Kits, which has hitherto been thought to have been lost. Kits lived in Suislepa in Viljandi County during the war and was in semi-hiding there. That is also where he painted a series of landscape views painted facing the sun. Pealelõuna [Afternoon] is light and airy. If we had to decide on the psychological, spiritual or other such condition of the author based on the painting style and the topic of this painting, we would probably venture to assume a ‘carefree’ or ‘optimistic’ state of affairs. (Which in some respects is in contradiction to the context of the year in which the painting was completed.) A certain irony or gaiety in the narrative also stands out: stressing the protestant work ethic had rather set the tone back then in Estonian art. Working people are ordinarily serious, absorbed in their activity, sometimes they are also in suffering. Their relationship to nature is solemn or also mildly entails conflict (for instance paintings of fishermen on a stormy sea). Kits, on the contrary, depicts idle people for whom work is not a value in and of itself, while a pause, a blank gap, not doing anything is a value in and of itself. Just a few years later, it became prohibited to depict such a situation since socialist realism prescribed the heroization of constructive socialist labour.