How often do we rush over the marketplace, entirely focused on the shopping we need to do? If we notice the glowing colours at all, it is not for the beauty of the fruit and vegetables in itself but only to determine whether to buy them. Maybe you do feel something special about the scene, and you take out your phone to take a quick snapshot. People are moving in front of your lens, but you just tuck your phone away quickly and continue with your errands.
The Estonian painter Rein Tammik takes the snapshot a step further and dedicates a whole canvas to what we might have dismissed and forgotten on our phone’s harddrive. The composition reminds of photorealistic paintings – it shows the back of the head of a passerby out of focus, the glare of the sun on the lens. The execution is more expressive – corn and wheat is painted in quick gestural brush strokes, salad hinted at with green blotches.
The scene seems as natural and unstaged as it could possibly be. Nobody is looking in the direction of the viewer, a person with the back to us blocks our view of almost a third of the picture. The cashier is turned slightly away from us and most figures on the market are merely dark silhouettes.
Our focus is led to the woman with the shining white apron. Hers is the only face worked out in detail by the painter. We stop to wonder – who is she? Does the painter know her?
From her white apron our eyes fall on the bright table surface, shining metallic surfaces and the glowing colours of cabbages, apples and tomatoes. The sun celebrates the abundance and freshness of the wares on this market stall.
The painter exquisitely portrays an effect of light that might well have been just a shortlived ray of sun reaching us through a cloudy sky. A fleeting moment eternalised in oil, to teach us to notice and appreciate such beautiful moments in our own lives.
Artwork: Rein Tammik, “Turg” (“Market”), 1983. Seen in Tallinn Art Hall.