“Open Collections. Art Museum in Your Town” 6.-31.August 2019

“Open Collections. Art Museum in Your Town” pays tribute to Felix
Randel (1901–1977); Johannsen or Johansen until 1936), who was born in
Valga in 1901 and was an E stonian Cubist painter and a member of the
Group of E stonian Artists. The concentration of future Estonian Cubists
in Valga was remarkable: from 1912 to 1916, other members of the Group
of E stonian Artists be sides Randel, including Eduard Ole, Friedrich Hist
and Juhan R audsepp, were studying at the Valga Cit y School. In 1914,
Ole and Raudsepp began their studies in Russia at the Penza Art School,
followed by R andel and Hist in 1916, and in 1918 all four of them
graduated. The Penza Art School became a remarkable educational
institution during World War I, an d also absorbed the evacuated Riga
Art School. At Penza, friendships with fu ture Latvian Cubists were made,
and their examples were followed during the Cubist art revolution that
took place in R iga in 1920.
In this way, the southern Estonian core of the Estonian cubistconstructivists
emerged, and they founded the Group of E stonian
Artists in 1923. They were the first artistic group focused on avantgarde
art in E stonia, and they prioritised creating art on the basis of
different new principles and emphasised the necessity of rethinking the
visual environment based on the contemporary spirit. According to the
members of the Group of E stonian Artists, they also protested against
old-fashioned art concepts and old forms of art. The southern Estonian
origin of the members of the Group of E stonian Artists tied their early
activities closely to Võru, Valga, Pärnu and Tartu, where exhibitions and
meetings with th e public were held. As is well-known, in 1923 6000 people
visited the Cubist exhibition in Võru, which was a long-standing record.
In 1919, Felix Randel was a wr iter against the Landeswehr in the
Estonian War of Independence, and between 1919 to 1921 he studied at
Pallas. Between 1924 and 1925, the main body of Randel’s Cubist work
was completed. In 1927, he tr avelled to Paris with Eduard Ole, where the
artists developed more realistic approaches. During the 1930s, Randel
mostly worked in car icature: he created the character Eesav Edvard
Puuslik, who was very popular in p re-war E stonia. He continued to work
as a car icaturist until after World War II.
In Valga, the Art Museum of E stonia presents two of Felix Randel’s
works which show the different periods of his artistic career. His 1924
work “Sunday” belongs to Randel’s Cubist period and is a hi ghlight among
all of the Estonian Cubist artworks. In his “S elf-portrait”, we see him a s an
expressive artist, closer to realism.