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Landscape with Pink Fields

Konrad Mägi Landscape with Pink Fields 1915–1916 oil, canvas 52 × 67.5 cm

Similarly to quite a few other Konrad Mägi paintings, it appears as if this one is also notionally divided in two. The upper horizontal half is full of tension. Twisting clouds that are characteristic of Mägi and blazing red fields beneath them are dramatic narratives of anxiety, anticipation or anguish. If we wish, we may read into the upper half of the painting the distant echo of the First World War as well as Mägi’s deeply personal depression, when he returned to Estonia after years of living in Western Europe and did not really find those anchor points that he had hoped to find. The clouds are peculiarly chopped up. Each strip of cloud is separate from the others and is coloured pinkish by the sun shining in the background, which intensifies even further the impression that Mägi’s view of the world was not a complete whole at the moment when he was painting, but rather was filled with interruptions and traumas. The painting’s lower half, on the other hand, is a tranquil idyll where deep green and blue tones dominate. Yet a lakelet that reflects the dramaturgy taking place in the sky adds mystery. Mägi used such a device on numerous occasions, doubling the tensions taking place in the sky in a reflection situated on the ground surface. Admittedly, the mirror image is abstract and the stillness and smoothness of the water surface alludes to calming down emotionally: that which is painful in the sky is meditative in reflection. It nevertheless pays to consider the poetry of such doubling at greater length: did Mägi want to extend the tensions on the painting’s surface in this way, or to tame them altogether, to show how the situation is resolved? Was this supposed to add depth and illusoriness to the space of the painting, or was it not compositional reasons but rather reasons arising from colouring, since the reflection falling on the water surface allows new colour tones and transitions? Does the doubling of something on the painting surface speak of a symbolistic ‘mirror’ along with all the associated mysterious allusions, or was it on the contrary a realistic moment in nature that Mägi simply painted?