Y el Sol cae
Tartu Art House Gallery manager
The title of the exhibition „Y el Sol cae” means “The Sun Also Falls”. The reference to Hemingway’s novel “The Sun Also Rises” is apparent and deliberate.
Andres Sütevaka, known as a painter, expectedly or unexpectedly – his paintings were dimensional too – started sculpure studies at Tartu Higher Art School three years ago. He went to study at the partner school Escola d´ Art i Superior de Disseny Pau Gargallo first as an Erasmus student, but he has stayed in Spain for much longer than planned in the beginning. It can be said that the painter was overwhelmed by ceramics. The fact that he joined Catalan Ceramics Association can be considered proof of that. Sütevaka, who has found new passion and inspiration in Spain, has completely given up drinking despite of the Mediterranean climate, which favors wine culture.
In summer Sütevaka organised a subsantial exhibition of paintings and ceramics in Barcelona’s culture factory La Farinera del Clot. And his abstract ceramic tiles were chosen to the final exhibition of the renowned Cordoba International ceramics competition “Design and New Forms”. A couple of months ago his ceramic works were displayed at a new gallery Nõunõu in Tartu.
Tartu Art House will exhibit the ceramics brought to the artist’s homeland in the hand luggage of the plane as well as the sculptures sent here by a truck carrying frozen fish, and also the big abstract paintings characteristic of his earlier work.
The exhibition as well as the studies in Spain in 2014 – 2015 are supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, the Estonian Artists’ Association and Archimedes Foundation (Erasmus Programme).
ANDRES SÜTEVAKA'S ART AND ARTISTIC LIFE: LIMITLESS TEMPERAMENT AND A TASTE OF MADNESS
Kadri Asmer, art historian
Andres Sütevaka (b 1971) is a well-known (often for his scandalous performances) Estonian artist. When thinking about the last two decades, art historians intend to talk about three main subjects in his works of art: the figurative and abstract paintings in bold and bright colours, the so-called homemade wine project (influenced by the bohemian and hedonistic life of a metropolis of art) and, last but not least, the politically critical and radical collages and assemblages. Now the new and independent period has evolved in the creative life of the artist Andres Sütevaka, who currently lives in Barcelona. It may be called the Spanish period, which has brought the artist to the ceramics.
Sütevaka is a third-year sculpture student of Tartu Art College, who went to Spain by chance. At the last moment the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki desisted to provide a place for foreign student and at that time the only institution accepting applications through the Erasmus programme was Escola d´Art i Superior de Disseny Pau Gargallo in Barcelona. Considering Sütevaka’s temperament and his intensity of colour perception it was the perfect solution. This is proved by the artist’s productivity and his mergence into the colourful art life of Barcelona, which allegedly incorporates about 10 000 artists from Spain and elsewhere. Sütevaka has become a member of the Potters Association of Catalonia, in autumn 2014 he held his personal exhibition „El Meu Circ a Barcelona“ in the cultural factory of Barcelona La Farinera del Clot, and his works were chosen for the final exhibition of the Córdoba international pottery and ceramics contest „Design and New Forms“. It seems that the southern light and beauty is going to keep the artist in its firm hold for quite a while longer.
The Sun Also Falls
Andres Sütevaka´s last exhibition “Y el Sol cae” in Tartu Art House was inspired by Spain and by Ernest Hemingway’s first novel “The Sun Also Rises”, which refers to the influence of fiction in Sütevaka’s artwork. The artist himself admits that he rather compares his painted forms with literature than visual art.
Within a few weeks the exhibition was visited by almost 2000 people. For me it shows that the Estonian art public is not afraid of something that is not typically Estonian. I visited the exhibition several times, also in the last minutes before it was closed. It was a sunny afternoon on 5 April 2015, but within seconds, the sky turned dark, my clothes were soaked by the rain and the wind seemed to rob my last thoughts. When I arrived at the Art House and stood in front of the large bright canvasses, I really felt the beaming warmth and vivid emotions. The contrast between how I looked like and how I felt was enormous. Indeed, the spectrum of colour on Sütevaka´s paintings is intense and exotic, but in the same time it captures you and fills you with real energy. This is proved by the two exhibited paintings created in Tartu „Bull and Matador“ (2014) and „The Sun Fell into the Sea“ (2015).
The ceramics included vases, plates, bowls and ceramic tiles. While the focus of the vases lies predominantly on geometry, the other forms are concentrated on colours and pictorial solutions. Sütevaka prefers the technique that he calls the slab ceramic, which means that the pieces are built out of clay that has been pressed flat. The creative process is long. Considering the time needed for the colours and the clay to dry as well as several firings, creating one piece takes a week or even longer. Vases also require drawing sketches beforehand. The vases constitute a specific series with its initial idea lying in bird figures. It began with a peculiar living arrangement when the artist lived with a Spanish lady called Rosa and her pets – the ducklings. Although that kind of cohabitation became intolerable for the artist, it provided a theme for art. Some of the vases are dedicated to Rosa (“Little Red Duck for Rosa”, “Big Red Duck for Rosa”).
To favor the fact that Spain has really had an effect on Sütevaka’s art, one´s must know the vow he made some time ago to his ceramic tutor in Tartu: he will never go into ceramics, because during the courses there was more clay on the floor than between his hands.
Colour is not coloured
Colour has always been one of the basic elements of art. The prerequisite for the perception of colours is light, which in turn makes it possible to see relations between various hues. This is an elementary comprehension that does not acquire enough appreciation in contemporary art theory. Colour embraces passion and incites emotions, but not only – it involves a system and order. The Spanish painter Goya has said “Color no es colorido” – „colour is not coloured“, which may be interpreted as the need for perception of colour, i.e. its use as a speaking and touching device and not merely as the purpose for colouring.
Sütevaka paints on the roof of the hostel, where he lives at the moment. There is enough space and light for his large-scale works. The artist has told that under the sun of Spain he had to rethink the use of colour and rephrase the colour theory he had been taught in Estonian art schools. Unfortunately the paintings created in Spain will probably not reach the artist´s homeland. The ceramics and sculptures for his last show in Tartu were transported to Estonia in the hand luggage by the plane and by a freight truck, but it was rather an exception and one-time thing.
As regards Andres Sütevaka’s current artistic period one should not consider it to be influenced directly by Spanish art – it seems to me that his use of colour is maybe too intense even for the Spanish taste. However his character and temperament tend to show the trails of a Spaniard. Time will let us know, whether the artist has found his very own place or not, but one thing is sure: Spain is one of the most suitable places for the artist, who carries such a huge amount of temperament. Believe me, here in the north it can also be seen as a tendency to madness.
More information is available on the web page of Andres Sütevaka: www.sytevaka.com