Six O’clock in the Afternoon

Olev Subbi Six O’clock in the Afternoon 1981 tempera, oil, masonite 120 × 95 cm

As usual, Subbi was not interested in the accurate psychological description of the nude figure but painted it simply as a naked body and a splash of colour. Although this painting is charged with more erotic yearning than many nudes by Subbi, the passivity and indifference of the model towards the viewer puts the focus on the painting’s artistic qualities. The treatment of space in the work of art is noteworthy. Subbi seated the model in the middle of the room, framed with openings to other spaces on both sides. On one side, the slanted window lets in light and, on the other side, the door opens up to a brighter world, creating an enticing illusion and leading the viewer to ponder what might be found behind the door and the window. The focal points of the painting are, thus, both the seated nude figure and the world outside, which is not depicted in the image and can only be imagined by the viewer.

The title of the painting and the motifs in it, primarily the loose pose of the model and the fancy chair on which she is sitting, allude to bourgeois pleasures to be enjoyed after the end of the workday. The general colour scheme of the painting is unexpectedly dark for Subbi but the colours behind the chair create a sort of screen to highlight the paleness of the naked body and to stress, through this, a hedonistic, carefree, positive and bright attitude to life. The artist did not add tension to the image through any questions or traumas. Unlike many other paintings, this work of art is not strewn with puzzle piece-like fragments that require the viewer to think deeply. This painting was created to be viewed and enjoyed without resistance.