Uno Roosvalt turned 80 in August this year. Current exhibition comprising Roosvalt’s drawings is one way to celebrate this important landmark in the artist’s life. Uno tends to lead his life with a modest flow – and his loving gaze accompanies the various subjects of his artwork, whether it be Nordic nature, coastal landscapes, evergreen bushes or cats and dogs. And there have always been cats and dogs in the Roosvalt family’s home.
Artist’s studio is an artist’s home. It is the birthplace of the artist’s artwork. Even when the works leave the studio, there will be a memory of the space in the artworks as the space in the artist’s head where the creative ideas were born. Yearning for one’s studio is a part of every artwork’s charm. An artist needs a studio – it is a place where artists keep their tools, a place they can leave and return. Uno Roosvalt’s studio is located in Maarjamäe district, Tallinn. It is on the first floor of his home. A narrow staircase leads upstairs, and there are many artworks hanging on the walls (including those by Estonian art classics Eerik Haamer, Johannes Võerahansu, Evald Okas; and Uno Roosvalt’s contemporaries Marju Mutsu and Naima Neidre), including the artist’s own works from the earlier years of his artist’s practice.
The studio is old, Uno Roosvalt has worked here for many years. Despite its small size, the studio has no suffocating effect. All the paintings and drawings surrounding you in the studio seem to be like openings to the worlds that offer more space and expanse for being: coastal landscapes, views to the cliffs and from the cliffs in Iceland, Gotland, Åland; Estonian coasts with junipers, megaliths, boat wrecks, heaps of fishing nets, glass buoys. Even if the artist depicts people or an animal, there is always some open view in the background, whether some kind of landscape or a window overlooking the garden. Uno Roosvalt’s studio is like a space with numerous windows.
His newest series of drawings „My Studio“ has been completed in 2021 and has inspired the artist to give the exhibition the same title. The series depicts views of Roosvalt’s studio, including the things surrounding him every day, drawings and paintings. With his new series, the artist takes a retrospective approach while referring and quoting his own earlier artwork. Roosvalt has used similar quoting method before – for instance, in his drawing series exhibited in Draakon gallery in 2018 where the artist entertained himself with the familiar images known from Eduard Wiiralt’s graphic prints.
The warm humour on these drawings has been replaced by silent contemplation. One can see much more depicted than the artworks in Roosvalt’s studio. The studio is an artist’s real home and therefore Roosvalt has been also attracted by the themes of Jesus Christ, stories of his sufferings and the messages of joy. Uno Roosvalt’s father, church minister Albert Roosvalt, served in St. Lawrence Church in Kuusalu; and Uno Roosvalt’s mother (maiden name Liidia Volmer) graduated from the Tallinn Industrial Art School. The intellectual environment in his home has influenced Uno Roosvalt when growing up and becoming an artist, on a somewhat very elementary, essential level.
Uno Roosvalt’s studio is located on the upper floor of his home; the series „My Studio“ is exhibited on the main floor of Hobusepea gallery. When going downstairs to the lower ground of the gallery – a space that could refer to subconsciousness and the hidden – one can see heaps of nails. The series of drawings „Coast of Nails“ has been completed in 2012–2013. Nails follow the shapes appearing in nature – views to the sea horizon or meadows that have been always characteristic to Roosvalt’s work. Nails penetrate the entire earthly existence and our surroundings, whether from the crucifix or the firewood burnt to ash in the oven. These are the parts of Uno Roosvalt’s artist’s world, designiting both the earthly and the mental plane.
Uno Roosvalt was born on August 22, 1941 and graduated from the department of painting at the Estonian State Art Institute in 1969. He started to participate in exhibitions already in 1968. He has held a long career as a lecturer at the Estonian Academy of Arts where he was the head of the painting department in 1985–1995. Since 1975, Uno Roosvalt is a member of the Estonian Artists’ Association and an honorary member since 2010. His extensive participation in exhibitions has brought him several art awards, including the Estonian Painters’ Association Award (2000), Konrad Mägi Award (2011), Erik Haamer Art Award (2018) and Kristjan Raud Art Award (2019. Uno Roosvalt’s artwork belongs to the collections of Art Museum of Estonia, Tartu Art Museum, Estonian Artists’ Association and numerous private collections.
For many decades, the recurring leitmotif in Uno Roosvalt’s work has been nature and coastal landscapes, Nordic cliffs and mountains, and the related diverse textures and fields of meanings. Uno Roosvalt is well-known for his craftmanship in uniting the mental world view and the Nordic approach to landscape, resulting in an existential whole.
Curator of the exhibition: Sirja-Liisa Eelma.
Design: Kaarel Eelma.
Exhibition is supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia.
Exhibitions in Hobusepea gallery are supported by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Estonian Ministry of Culture and Liviko Ltd.
Exhibition by Uno Roosvalt
Title: My Studio
Hobusepea gallery, Hobusepea 2, Tallinn.
Photography: Anna Mari Liivrand and Stanislav Stepashko