Fishing Village

Richard Uutmaa Fishing Village 1945-1950 oil, plywood 65 × 82 cm

It is possible that Richard Uutmaa started with the sky in painting this painting. There he has felt truly free, the brush has moved vigorously and under different angles, the colours mix and overlap. Uutmaa left about half of the painting’s surface area to the sky, yet even in depicting the ground he has also tried to continue with the same kind of freedom. We see greenish, brown, black and orangish rows. Pains have not been taken to polish them. The first or second brushstroke and the vigorous trace left by it was trusted. Uutmaa’s paintings often stand out due to their strict composition, where all elements are in balance, there are no gaps, and every detail in the space of the painting is placed there with clear compositional justification, yet he also feels surprisingly free in environments where he does not have to deal with details – the sky and the ground. When he started painting the fishing village’s buildings and people, Uutmaa first placed them in precisely the right places. This is doubtless a fantasy picture, a certain idealistic idea of what a day in a fishing village could look like, filled with diligent work that ties together different generations. For this reason, Uutmaa has behaved a little bit like an ethnographer who wants to record everything that is characteristic of a given tribe in one picture, and who for this reason spreads activities out evenly over the surface of the painting: the pulling (or pushing) of a boat on the left side, the cleaning (?) of nets in the centre, people with horses on the right, and far more abstract and incomprehensible activity in the background in the centre, yet bustling can be seen and work is being done in that part of the painting as well. Uutmaa naturally had to paint storylines that were officially approved in the spirit of the 1940s, but in its abundance of fantasy, this painting diverges quite far from realism – all the more so that Uutmaa’s fantasy is not directed towards the future but into the past. He does not paint utopia, the arrangement of things that might someday arrive, but rather he paints paradise lost. This here is very likely his home village, a world that once was but which already shows signs of cracking by the time that the painting is created. The painting is Richard Uutmaa’s attempt to stop the cracking and his wish to preserve what for the artist was the former ideal state of affairs, at least on the surface of this painting.