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Capri Motif

Konrad Mägi Capri Motif 1922-1923 oil, canvas 50 × 54.5 cm

The focus of this painting appears to be on the walls of yellowish houses, their shades and exotic, somewhat faded tone, which Mägi did not find in Estonia. Admittedly he has skilfully painted the left-hand side of the painting with many nuances regarding colouring, yet since the walls there are almost monochromatic, they also create a neutral background. For this reason, the multi-coloured houses on the work’s right-hand side stand out even more, all the more so that the sky is also not painted too dramatically, but rather is covered with a uniform blue tone. The warmth and buoyancy that the yellowish walls of the houses instil is surprising since when painting in Estonia only a few months earlier, the world in Mägi’s conception was a dim, tense and perhaps even threatening place. Conciliation and pacification take place on Capri. We notice the completeness of the composition and the fine elaboration of the colouring in this painting as well. Mägi’s thirst for colour has not faded away, on the contrary, he appears to have restored his palette on Capri, managing to make even the laundry hung out to dry above the street resound with colour nuances. Yet particular attention should be paid to Mägi’s brushstrokes in this painting. He repeatedly changes their direction, width and length, yet at the same time leaves the strokes visible – when looking at the painting we can easily see the trajectory of the brushstrokes. This also gives the painting a slightly sketch-like impression. Its life-likeness has not disappeared and its harmonious composition does not start to suffer from excessive construction. Mägi does not pretend that the author of this painting is some sort of machine or anonymous being – the brushstroke that is left visible is also a sign of the presence of the artist, the inseparability of his person from the painting, and of the fact that an abstract view of the world does not open up before our eyes, but rather a clearly subjective and personal vision of the state of affairs.