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"Ivar Kaasik: The Happy End - Paintings"
2007-09-22 until 2007-11-17
Egbert Baque Contemporary Art
The first one-man show by the Estonian-born artist Ivar Kaasik at Egbert Baqué Contemporary Art, Berlin, is entitled ‘The Happy End’. And indeed, some of the paintings seem to report about the sunny side of life. Kaasik’s spectrum of motifs ranges from stars, stylized into icons of film history, to idyllic landscapes, vivid portraits of people, plants, or animals, all the way to strongly focussed urban scenes. But regardless of what material Ivar Kaasik turns his attention to: his paintings have a strange aura that makes it difficult to believe in a happy end. On seeing these paintings, terms like photorealism or even hyperrealism come to mind, because all the paintings demonstrate great artistry and precision in their execution. Works like Radices montis (2007), Toto prectore (2006) or Mare 1 (2007) are reminiscent of photographic snapshots.
It seems almost as if Kaasik had witnessed the scenes himself, photographed and then painted them. But at least as far as the portraits of famous film stars and divas are concerned, like Audrey Hepburn in Toto prectore, this can definitely be ruled out. It is, therefore, not the portrait of a person, but the portrait of a portrait already sufficiently distributed by the mass media. Trying to pin down the above-mentioned aura of the painting, one realises that Kaasik works with rather reticent colours that lack any kind of assertive gleam, which is replaced by a kind of subtle veil or a blurring that is difficult to grasp for the eye. This subtlety that puzzles the beholder is one of the elements of Ivar Kaasik’s mastery.
Kaasik never adapts a photographic model one-to-one; rather, he comments on it through his reduced colouration, which at times can seem rather cold, by avoiding concretising backgrounds, or by unusual compositions and placements of his protagonists. The painting Radices montis, for example, at first sight seems to show an apparently idyllic outing. In front of a sublime mountain range, three people and a dog take a break from travelling. An apparently American limousine divides the scene into foreground, middle, and background. The third person, leaning against the car, looks at the mountain range, turning away from the main figures in the foreground. There, a man, a boy playing with a hula-hoop, and a majestically draped dog are concentrated into a triangle. Because the monochrome grey floor gives no material clues, the foreground seems more like a stage than a natural surrounding. There is no communication, let alone interaction between the three figures. Each seems isolated, concentrating exclusively on himself and his concerns. It seems as if they don’t even notice the landscape surrounding them, the supposed goal of the group.
These and similar motifs from the artist’s broad range therefore do not refer to idyllic landscapes, happy people, the glamour of famous personalities, not to speak of a happy end. Rather, Ivar Kaasik’s paintings hint at yearnings, report of past times or times he has not witnessed, and speak of loneliness. They question relationships, identities and the place of individuals within societies. In the end, however, the visitor of the exhibition can look forward to a happy end after all: the gallery is showing an exhibition with extraordinary works by an artist who manages to communicate very impressively in his paintings his experiences and yearnings as a commuter between East and West. - Asja Kaspers
Ivar Kaasik was born in 1965 in Kingiseppa, Estonia. From 1983-1987 he studied architecture at the Estonian Academy of Arts and subsequently also art, getting his diploma in 1992. In 1989/90, he was also a student at Hochschule für Kunst und Design, Halle. Since 1992, Ivar Kaasik has been living in Berlin and Kuressaare. He has been cooperating with Egbert Baqué Contemporary Art since 2007, where he was first presented in the gallery’s most recent group show ‘Free Hand 2’.
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