Angela

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My first encounter with Angela’s mystical essence reminded me of a poem that I knew by heart but could barely recall. Each verse lingered on the tip of my tongue yet kept escaping me nonetheless.

I remember her showing me a painting of hers which depicted an uncannily surreal scene that will haunt me for the rest of my life; a giant cake in form of Vladimir Lenin’s corpse surrounded by faceless school children. From that moment on, Angela became to me what Neal Cassady was to Jack Kerouac, a term I usually  would not dare use because of its connotations with passivity and with simplistic beauty: a Muse.

Angela’s journey as a painter started in her solitary room back in Estonia. Autonomous and passionate, nevertheless struggling to connect with her peers, Angela never went to kindergarten and spent her days at her grandparents’ house.

While discovering herself as an artist, Angela was also an ardent reader. She would choose an author and obsessively read everything they have ever written. When I was sent to school I was mortified! I didn’t know how human relationships work, so I didn’t have any friends besides my sister. I had loads of time to devour the different worlds of Russian writers and religious texts.”

Her obsession with literature inspired her first major pieces, such as a painting depicting the ball scene from Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel The Master and Margarita. Currently, the young woman is exploring the world of the Persian poet Farid ud-Din Attar in his work The Conference of the Birds.

“Besides literature and the arts, I have always been intrigued by religious texts! I am fascinated by this idea that life is just a massive terrain of suffering and how some of us rely on religion in order to escape that feeling of never-ending doom. While having a shit time, we are quietly suffering towards a final salvation that comes in the afterlife. I enjoy exploring these Kirkegaardian ideas, although personally I am a non-believer.”

https://www.angelamaasalu.com/works/2l381p6tpiwxnsfjuayo5dcztqskge
“Dreams that were hidden in the forgotten cave.” Oil on board, 60x60cm 2016

 

The creatress’ artwork seems indeed to tackle these almost Nietzschean questions of doom and salvation. Some of her paintings portray sugary mountains filled with glittery dreams. Others are darker and peek into the impenetrable depths of the human psyche but most importantly into the intrauterine-like space, into the bloody depths of human bodies. Angela reproduces the horrors that occur behind the closed doors of our primordial homes, the homes of our subconscious minds.

“After high-school I enrolled at the University of Tartu to study Fine Arts. I know that people tend to go for an art degree with that immense purpose of changing the world. Surprisingly, I never really had that mindset. My high-school exams sucked so a BA in Fine Arts was the only option I had. Luckily it was something I was extremely interested in. I was perfectly aware that my life as an artist will probably mean constant struggle to survive. I never really had that idolised vision of THE ARTIST.”

After doing an exchange year as a Master’s student at the UAL Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, Angela decided to move to London to pursue her career as a painter. “In London, people tend to have this individualistic lifestyle. I was and still am very intrigued by the idea of how you can just dissolve in the London crowds. You can disappear and no one will ever notice, and I really like that sometimes.” 

The experience of living, working and exhibiting in London has helped her shape her unique painting style but it also gave rise to opportunities for her to explore other art forms such as installation.

“In Estonia I was constantly confronted with a certain pressure to succeed straight away and to always know what I’m doing. London provides that space for experimentation, which is something I value a lot as an artist. It has influenced me on an individual level quite a lot. Unfortunately whenever I go back to Estonia, these newly developed parts of myself tend to hide or become silent. I grow quieter by knowing that my country has always been part of this “iron-culture”, like any Eastern European country, I suppose. People are not as open in Estonia as they are in London. I must say that I am gradually transforming and giving less of a fuck. I’m rather content with my life and I’m learning to accept my individuality. I recently took the first steps to taking off my masks.”

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“The Saddest Circus Horse in the World” Installation piece, Tartu Art Museum, Estonia

Like most of us living in the big city, Angela cannot fully decide how she feels about London. She often found herself living a free life of individualism and yet an equally lonely and alienated life, which is a reoccuring topic in her paintings. In her latest installation “The Saddest Circus Horse in The World” the artist attempts to prompt the conversation about our generation’s constant restlessness and our inability to fully find ourselves and to settle down. After all, we are constantly chasing that one thing we cannot even name. The circus horse who is constantly galloping from one disappointment to another becomes the metaphor for our lost generation. Personally, I think that all of her paintings  bear that wasteland-ish aspect of today’s youth’s existence. Her artwork portrays the bits of our lives that are carefully contained in fragile bell jars or our rotten dreams that spew from locked bird cages. Allegories of tragedies that we all share in today’s consumerism-driven society.

“I constantly go through the struggle of explaining to people that my art isn’t personal but I always end up with the realisation that the shadows of my personal life are staring right at me from my canvases. I catch myself and realise that actually, my art IS deeply and unavoidably personal.”

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“Princess NO.1” Oil on canvas, 80×60 cm, 2017


Lately, Angela’s paintings are inspired by her dreams and her family’s dynamics. “I find it pretty enjoyable to contemplate and paint that symbolistic realm that we only enter while slipping into the unconsciousness. Domestic space, nostalgia and memory is what I am currently interested in exploring through my craft. At times, I feel like everyone is talking about something completely different. All the artists with their work look into the future and I am just dwelling in the past. It seems like the notion of time’s passing is not what concerns contemporary artists anymore and I often find myself doubtful of my art because of that. However, this is what I am driven to do nowadays. These are aspects that I am personally concerned with so I pursue them.” The young woman’s recently deceased father and his own, rather unusual and artistic means of preserving moments of the past is another source of inspiration that she plans on delving more deeply into in the near future. 

While being highly interested in themes of domesticity and the different meanings of home, Angela finds it hard to define what home means to her on a personal level. She says that it’s like an unreal dream, made out of familiar smells and nostalgic memories but it’s also a dream that is set in the future; a stability that she imagines herself to find comfort in but certainly cannot predict to find happiness in. “To be honest I call every place I stay longer than a few nights at instantly home. At the moment, I feel home-less. Estonia does not feel like home anymore and London feels merely transitional.”

You can view Angela’s work on her website: https://www.angelamaasalu.com
and on her Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/angelamaasalu/

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