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A painter’s exhibition

Updated: Nov 29, 2020

TALLINN 14 October – 2 November 2020 Hobusepea Gallery Paint story

August Sai


Paint story by August Sai at Hobusepea Gallery is the second exhibition worth visiting in the Old Town this week.

This is very definitely a painter’s exhibition in the sense that everyone that has trained as a painter or fallen for the medium can relate to the physical painterly nature of Sai’s explorations. This is an exhibition that not only engages the viewer in terms of the image and what the artist has done with it, but also in terms of the technical methods he has employed. You cannot help but move in close and try to understand how the artist has managed to manipulate the paint the way he has.

On the first level at Hobusepea, the artist presents a series of portraits based on famous examples from the history of European painting. In each case there are at least two versions of the same portrait, each version having been manipulated in a different way. In some ways it is like we are looking at the application of the special effects possible in an image manipulation programme like Photoshop, but the manipulations are real, physical and three-dimensional. The oily, ooziness and painterliness of paint has been worked with the skill of a master Taschist or formalist painter.

These references that come to mind on the first level when you are up close to the works, come the fore even more downstairs, where the works are totally abstract – exploring tone and simple monochrome arrangements. As I moved from one image to the next, one series to the next, various modernist masters came to mind including those that denatured the painting surface like the pioneering Italian abstract painter and sculptor Lucio Fontana. You no doubt will have your own associations.



Conducting these formal experiments that tread so close to aspects of art history from 100 years ago or more might seem a bit of a dead end, but August Sai has managed to go down this rabbit hole in his studio practice in such a way that does turn over new ground while keeping both feet firmly in the 21st century.

Paint story is on until 2 November.

Hobusepea Gallery

2 Hobusepea Street, Tallinn

Wed – Mon 11.00 – 18.00


By Michael Haagensen

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