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Two Girls and the Early Summer Town

Olev Subbi Two Girls and the Early Summer Town 1980 tempera, oil, masonite 125 × 170 cm

In this painting, Olev Subbi once again combined various realistic and imagined elements. The view from the window is the view from Subbi’s studio on Liivalaia Street towards Tatari Street and a house designed by Karl Burman (the same view is depicted in the painting February). Other familiar elements are the vase full of wild flowers and heads of grain and the corner of a table covered with a white tablecloth. These details can be seen in several of Subbi’s paintings, so we can presume that they come from the depths of his memory. The situation as a whole has a dreamlike quality. It is possible that some details have not been included by the artist to tell a story but rather serve as excuses to add a spot of colour or to balance the composition. The colour of the Burman house can be found elsewhere in the painting and the rhythm of small brush strokes in the blossoms is in harmony with similar brushwork used for the lilac blooms outside the window.

What we should pay attention to in the painting is how different layers of paint mix and overlap. The figure of a woman ascending imaginary stairs in the middle of the painting looks like a dark column that divides the work of art into two equal halves. The left side has more light; its focal point is the nude and the shade of her body sets the leading tone. The window behind the nude figure gives the space some depth and the left side of the painting could thus be considered a semi-realistic celebration with a number of realistic details (such as a house, a nude figure and a window). The right side of the painting is much more abstract, with a few dreamlike and fragmented semi-realistic motifs. The work of art does not have a dominant focal point: the various paint layers mingle in the closed space in an abstract whirlpool. Due to this duality, the two halves of the painting could even be viewed as independent works of art.