Still Life with Freak and Tin Flower, 2012

“...oh, and also...” Estonian painter Kaido Ole at Temnikova & Kasela gallery 0

Annika Toots

“...oh, and also...” at the Temnikova & Kasela gallery is a solo show by Estonian painter Kaido Ole (1963). As the title suggests, the exhibition is a further exploration of the themes that already emerged in his large-scale presentation, “Handsome Hero and Plenty of Still Lifes”,  at the Kumu Art Museum in 2012. The exhibition will run until the 31st of January, 2014.

The exhibition “...oh, and also...” can be seen as a continuation of the show you had in Kumu in 2012. Were these still lifes left out from the Kumu exhibition, or are they completely new?

These are all new works. Two paintings from this exhibition have been on display at the Tartu Art Museum, but all the others have been made particularly for this one. After the Kumu show and the feedback that I got from it, I felt that there were a few more things that I wanted to do. But as always, you find out what you are doing once you’re already doing it. When starting to work on something, the first few pieces are always sort of lonely and strange, but at some point, the works get more interesting and a sense of unity emerges.

Still Life in Memory of J.T, 2013

What is it that connects these works?

That stupid wheel (laughs). It’s like a boomerang. On the one hand, you need something that would hold everything together, something that would capture the gaze, and function as an anchor, but soon it takes revenge – it becomes too insistent, too important. It is the first thing that people ask me about, and to tell you the truth, it’s starting to get on my nerves a little. It seems like it’s getting a little too much attention. If something is above all other things, then one should look for the important in the extraneous things. It would be rather stupid to go to Paris only because of the Eiffel Tower, although it is really important and significant. Normally, you have a look at it, maybe take a snapshot with your camera, and then you turn your back on it and start putting Paris together from other pieces. In this sense, this wheel is like the Eiffel Tower, but it also brings the whole show together. And this exhibition is a lot more eclectic than the one I had in Kumu.

Still Life with Man Playing Home, 2013

Yesterday, when you were talking to some young school students, you mentioned that the works presented here are deliberately absurd, and that they leave a lot of space for interpretation...

The works in Kumu were also absurd, they were playful. But when talking about absurd, I think the works in my next show will probably be even more absurd. So, this aspect of absurdity will become clearer when that time comes. On the one hand, it’s absurdity, but on the other, these are very humanistic ideas for me. They are two things that shouldn’t go together – absurdity and humanity – but in my view, everything in the world goes together.

So, we can see here some glimpses of your next exhibition?

Yes. For example, all of the works that have the word ‘freak’ in their title. I knew that the wheel would  connect everything, so I tried these ‘freaks’ out, just to see if they worked or not.

Where did the ‘freaks’ come from, and why are they ‘freaks’?

This is just part of the idea of having fun. I had an idea to do something with figures, and suddenly, ‘freaks’ came to me. I liked the word, it felt right and I felt that I liked this way of doing them. It was only later that I tried to figure out why I liked it. Partly, it started with Picasso. I have a big book with his “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”, and in the book, this period was called “monsters”. So, my logic with the ‘freaks’ is almost the same. I felt that if I would give it a brutal title, then no one has an obligation to like it. I can do whatever I want; calling them ‘freaks’ gets rid of any pretensions.

Yellow Still Life with Freak, 2013

You also told the students that it depends on the artist how many conflicts he or she puts on the canvas. It seems that this wheel is also a tool for making everything on the canvas a bit conflicted.

Basically, there is no such thing that wouldn’t cause conflict. You can only choose its extent. or degree. For example, when you have an empty canvas, then this, in itself, is already a conflict. It’s all about potential expectations and imagining what could be happening there. When you create something, there is always the “too little”, “a little bit more”, “too much”, etc. These are defined according to some of your own parameters. As for the conflicts, the best thing for an artist would be to figure out beforehand what kind of a type you are, and at what stage you are in your development. If you are having a moment of despair, then you want more contrasts. In order to create more conflict, you want everything to be out of balance.

Still Life with Prosperous Man, 2013

What type and stage of development are you in at the present moment?

Currently, it all feels quite nice. I’m just reworking my home page and I read all of the old texts I have ever written on art. The first ten years seemed very pragmatic. And then suddenly, there was this awful wailing and moaning. I was reading these texts and thinking that this guy is clearly suicidal, and actually, it was not that long ago. However, shortly after that, I left the Academy of Arts and I received a proposal for the Kumu exhibition; I made some new works and I realized that this is all pretty nice, actually.

And now you are also the new TV presenter of the art section in the Estonian cultural TV program, “OP!”. How does that fit in with your work?

I’m doing this project together with Anneli Porri. The work is divided between us, so I am on the screen and she is not. But of course, it’s hard, because I’m not sure if I’m doing it well. With paintings, I know that I won’t fuck up, but on screen, it could get embarrassing. Although, fear is also a great thing – to put yourself in a position where you can be totally destroyed. Eventually, you will come out a better person, because it has cracked your self-confidence. I have thought about it a lot, and I still do. I lost three kilograms just because of thinking about it. I’ve never liked the beginnings, but I can also be quite demanding. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. 

Read in Archive: Thinking About Life as an Art Project. An interview with Kaido Ole