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Woman in a Living Room

Karl Pärsimägi Woman in a Living Room 1920–1930s Oil on cardboard 42.7 × 52.2 cm

Painting is always a choice. When one starts painting, that is already a choice, of course, but after that primeval decision, a whole series of other choices also have to be made: what to paint, how, from what angle, whether to use any angle at all, what colouring, with what conception – and so forth. Hence paintings could be read as accumulations of choices, and the sequence of traces that different choices have left can be tracked. On the other hand, a painting could also be looked at as a chronicle of renunciations. The artist successively discards that which is not important. This appears to apply especially to the painting Naine elutoas [Woman in a Living Room]. Karl Pärsimägi has first discarded a whole series of details that make reality of reality: he has been quick and generalising with his paintbrush, and has glided over all manner of items of furniture, dishes or clothing in foregoing them. The same thing has happened to shadows, colours and light: Pärsimägi has discarded shadows where they could be, sometimes adding them where their existence is surprising. In the case of colours, the artist has similarly made a whole series of renouncement decisions, abandoning the abundance of colouring in real life and focusing on pure surfaces of colour. This does not mean that asceticism in terms of colours awaits us on the painting surface, yet it does leave open the possibility that the artist has chosen consistent renouncement as the source of his approach – so that by shunning what is extraneous it would be possible to ultimately arrive at the nucleus.