Eero Alev “Broken Sun”

Eero Alev’s nostalgic paintings draw inspiration from ever-innocent children and nature, capturing them with the cultivated means of painting and paying attention to the melancholy of colour, the finality of shadows and breaking of the sun. Alev’s paintings are like summaries of summer at the end of August. They look back on fragments of the past, rushing to grab hold of bits of memories before they disappear into the void and assembling them into a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces filled with fields of colour.

The core of Alev’s current exhibition consists of paintings in varying formats that merge moments from the author’s biography. Instead of documentary accuracy, Alev is intrigued by suggestion and radiance, preferring speculation over assertions and the endless ambiguity of perception over concreteness. He has abandoned the idea of telling a complete story, choosing instead to piece together a mosaic of memory fragments that remains perpetually imperfect and unfinished, allowing room for the poetic means of painting.

Many of Alev’s paintings are set in coastal regions, the transitional zone between land and sea that has captivated artists through history. They feature views from the Tabasalu cliffs near the artist’s home, his childhood summer home in Käsmu, or Hiiumaa Island where his family spends their holidays. Instead of panoramic views, Alev focuses on individual nuances: boulders, waves and shadows on the sand or benches on which no one sits any longer. In the vagueness of memory, the concrete textures of different surfaces – the hardness of rocks, the softness of sand, the waves of water – enter into a dialogue. Something has happened in these places, but it is not what has happened, but its silent witnesses that can be clung to.

Space plays an important role in this series of paintings. A track known from the Ludo board runs across several paintings with its flat circular dots passing through Hiiumaa’s junipers. The paper dolls made by children are sketch-like, but Alev has paid special attention to the shadows cast by the dolls on the canvas. The illusion of depth, games with distance and the open fan hovering in the dark void constantly create spaces that simultaneously absorb the viewer’s gaze and give it context.

Alev paints with a brush, occasionally wiping the canvas with a tissue to achieve a different background texture. He is not one of those artists who enjoys the brushwork coming to the fore, dancing around or going wild. The brush is a tool for creating illusions, the main function of which is to apply paint to canvas. Alev’s colouring is mature: he prefers more sombre fields of colour to warm tones, and he has rejected bright red in favour of shades of brown, which give his paintings a nostalgic atmosphere. The literary plot of the paintings is hidden in various details, but Alev aims to convey their mood and thus their ultimate meanings through colour. It is colour that brings together the jumbled playground of fragments.

Alev often uses photography as the basis of his work. However, he does not embark on special photography expeditions, preferring instead to sift through semi-random photographs taken several years ago like a disorganised memory bank, where he finds the random, the unnoticeable, the almost meaningless. It is the act of painting that gives a poetic dimension to this lack of meaning by seeking it in nature as contemporary artists often do. The breaking of the sun on a rock serving as a playground for children and its transformation into a shadow on the sand expresses longing – for something that was, is and will perhaps come again.

Eero Epner

Graphic design: Ott Metusala
Exhibition opening gallery: Kaarel Antonov
Photographic documentation: Roman-Sten Tõnissoo & Adele-Kristelle Lehtorg

The exhibition is supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.