CRITICISM - KRIITIKA - Maria Arusoo, Painters speak! – KUNST.EE 2010, nr 3–4

Maria Arusoo offers an overview of a seminar organized in conjunction with the exhibition Painting in Process curated by Eha Komissarov

Tõnis Saadoja did not talk about art criticism, but provided a very interesting description of his personal relationship to painting, calling himself a member of the painters’ generation that does not deal with painting. Saadoja explained that the main reason behind his arrival in the plastic arts was his extreme interest in reality. However, he reached a critical moment when he realised that every single technique and medium defines its own reality separately from the others. To find common elements in them, we must begin to analyse and to think. Saadoja believes that one of the main problems in painting is that it is a very complex means of articulation and that it is very difficult to convey unambiguous thought constructions through it.

In Saadoja’s opinion, the ‘cover concepts’ of contemporary art are ‘relational aesthetics’ – a term coined by Nicholas Bourriaud and a theory that operates according to the keywords of post-production. The latter is not directly associated with painting or figurative art, but with social relational art. Saadoja is fascinated by the fact that this is not some theory that is closely attached to a certain medium, but rather, something that brings the dialogue between different media to a new level. This also coincides with Saadoja’s artistic practice where he attaches importance to ‘creating reflection points’ by means of painting. In this situation painting consists in active experiencing; the concept can be taken apart into various strips and all unnecessary elements can be eliminated, piecing together a perfect, purified model which should, ideally, raise questions and personal reinterpretations among viewers.

Concerning art education, Saadoja agreed with the idea of students’ responsibility that had been proposed earlier by Kaido Ole, admitting that university is an environment which supports people at a tender age, mirroring their signals and providing feedback. Saadoja confirmed that he does not regard the technical aspect in painting as inferior, but considers a general navigational ability to be most important. He also admitted that studying at a university does not make anyone a ‘finished artist’.