Vano Allsalu | 2005–2008 | 2001–2004 | 1988–2000 | CV & contact | text

My paintings can largely be described as abstract art. Yet the formal play with forms and colours is not the subject I am interested in.

I focus on this very moment when hidden turns out visible, when imaginary becomes real. It's like working on the edge of time.

From my point of view the true creation of art is a quest to touch the pure essence of reality, the deepest causes of existence. Somehow I am a fan of Heraclitus of Ephesus, believing in the perpetuity of change ("panta rhei" - "everything flows").

So I catch my moments, digging them out of the flow. When painting, there are no irrelevant details for me. Carried out with extreme dedication, every brushstroke, every line or spot of colour has its meaning. The ancient art of Japanese brush painting, sumi-e has impressed me a lot. I believe the ultimate expression can only be based on overwhelming concentration, the deduction of artist's self.

Yet we live in relative and selfish times, having the personality unquestionably praised, asking questions preferred to knowing answers. So I work to find creational integrity melting my personal weaknesses with my steady beliefs.

I have to feed myself with impressions and thoughts before I am able to start painting. Usually it takes weeks, sometimes months. This period could be compared to waiting a baby. You are aware of it's being part of you, but it still appears as a surprise for you.

My working method is partly subconscious - when processing my preliminary idea or vision, I let my work to quide me through the rest of the realization. Sometimes it feels like being possessed. Opening your mind and senses to the deepest underlying urges and fears makes you vulnerable - but may result in a truly convincing work of art if lucky.

Though I usually don't depict humans, there faces or bodies, exploring the different aspects of human condition is a matter of the utmost importance to me. I believe that going through a plane landscape, a rough sea or a simple tree I can study the human issues even better. Sometimes I refer to the mythology, involving ancient motifs and signs into my creative thinking processes. As well as for the early Greek philosophers, the primitive, even primordial elements and drives are important to me. For example, sunshine, rain, river, blooming, rainbow, desert, Icarus and Phoenix are words that may well appear in the names of my paintings.

Due to beforementioned sources of inspiration my paintings are quite often landscape-like. Mostly it is a formal scene where I can bring together the meaningful elements and mental forms. At first the landscape is empty. Then from the brushstrokes visible forms and patterns emerge. I see the landscape at first hand as a process. A human is similar to a landscape - a subject in progress, bearing the traits of the civilization.

Vano Allsalu, 2008


At the beginning of the 1990s Vano Allsalu positioned himself as the first young Estonian abstract painter of the new generation, who was oriented to the keywords of the post-modern. After Ado Lill, he was the second Estonian painter who determined himself as a convinced abstractionist and has not followed other styles up to now. Vano Allsalu's example was later followed by a whole pleiad of painters who reached the abstract manner of presentation for different reasons and along different paths but none of them can be regarded as pure abstractionists.

Such kind of self-determination is important as it faces the artist with the necessity to reflect something which is not existing in the reality, which contradicts the traditional ways of depiction and which therefore leads to a very personal artistic language. Therefore such kind of decision requires the author to aspire to the position of the Creator in its most original meaning. Vano Allsalu describes the situation into which he has positioned himself as a painter with the following remark: "There are only elusive, non-existent rules - and even those are just mine. This is a good feeling."

Already with his first paintings V. Allsalu introduced corrections into the principles of the Estonian school of painting and released the colour, as it were. His paintings are disharmoniously beautiful and offer untraditional colour compositions, which nevertheless are not difficult to accept by the viewer. The message, carried by his works since 1992, spoke the language of the concentrate of the new era and conclusive thinking. V. Allsalu introduced to the Estonian painting power, which had disappeared from there in the 1980s.

Eha Komissarov, 2004

under construction