Composition with Black Red

Elmar Kits Composition with Black Red 1966 tempera, cardboard 69 × 54.8 cm

Elmar Kits’s solo exhibition was held in the autumn of 1966 at the Tartu Artists’ Building, which was pivotal not only in Kits’s creative work but also in the history of Estonian art as a whole. Here Kits displayed around a hundred mostly semi-abstract paintings that were mostly painted during that very same year of 1966. This work was not displayed at that exhibition, yet it organically belongs together with other analogous works.

Art scientist Ene Lamp: “This exhibition is an event. Its value is debatable, it can be understood, yet it is a fact that cannot be ignored. Kits’s paintings confirm that the more innovative means of expression in painting, in which only clumsy attempts have been made thus far or which sometimes smacked of the youthful wish to amaze unexpectedly, have become the free and assured language of expression of a mature artist.” This was considered a pioneering exhibition that very vigorously demonstrated the possibilities of abstract art to the Soviet art world for the first time. The importance of this new stage in Kits’s work was already understood at the time of the exhibition, when for instance Voldemar Erm wrote: “This [exhibition] introduces ample novel, fresh attributes into the creative work of this artist himself as well as to the Estonian Soviet art of painting as a whole. This exhibition is not some chance or extraordinary phenomenon, rather it reflects in concentrated form the restlessly searching and experimenting spirit of the times that is emerging throughout our cultural life.”