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Paul Liivak Flowers 1925 Oil on plywood 62.5 × 63 cm

Paul Liivak is known for very sensitive watercolours and landscape paintings, where forms undulate and colours blend in with one another. Such a vigorous and explosive painting from him is surprising. For some reason, Liivak filled this still-life with a sudden burst of colour and energy, and just as inexplicably, he abandoned this in his later oeuvre.

In painting the bouquet, he has placed four dark blue flowers in a measured way at its heart. They set the composition, making it simultaneously balanced and self-assured. Other tones also emerge from between the blue blossoms, yet the blue flowers are what control the entire bouquet – and painting – as a structure. Yet Liivak has painted the table altogether differently. The tablecloth covering it is white (this helps to better delineate the colours of the blossoms), and here and there it has a somewhat dreamy and hazy form. Liivak has placed a few flowers that are not withered, yet have fallen out of the bouquet, on that tablecloth. Juxtaposed with the bouquet in the vase that radiates vitality, this comes across as a summary of the cycle of life: these blossoms lying here abandoned, but others shining robustly.