Seashore in Saaremaa

Seashore in Saaremaa

1913–1914Oil on cardboard47.7 × 64.3 cmEnn Kunila art collection

A fairly anomalous work from Konrad Mägi’s Saaremaa period, this painting shares some features with his Normandy period, so it might be supposed to be one of his first works painted on Saaremaa. The only other time Mägi painted the sea was in Normandy. We repeatedly see large expanses of water, but they seem to be in more of a decorative function and do not convey the characteristic openness of the ocean, being often populated with miscellaneous objects (such as gondolas).

Nor does he return to painting the sea on Saaremaa in a manner where the sea is the defining element. We even see the waterline reduced to a blue streak or as one element of many. Seashore in Saaremaa focuses on the surface of the sea, which Mägi depicts in predominantly greenish tones. The only non-marine elements that intervene are some stones and clouds but they are not equal partners.

Mägi’s interest in the sea can primarily be attributed to questions of painting technique. Mägi employs different brushstrokes and colour transitions, thus shaking off realism. Mägi’s sea does not fall into the existing tradition of maritime art, but it proposes a new modernist approach where much greater emphasis lies on the intrinsic values of painting. What is important is not creating a realistic illusion of the sea, but rather the method of juxtaposing dots of colour and rhythms of brushstrokes.